It all probably started when I was a newborn and dressed to the nines in a small apartment in New York City totally unaware of how cool that probably was. By virtue of birth, I was granted a license to wear the color pink. Dress a little girl in yellow or blue, and people will ask if the baby is a boy or a girl. Put her in pink, and everyone - except the incredibly dense or color-blind - just knows.
Pale pink turned into primary colors and Dr. Seuss later on, as it does for most toddlers. Pink was put away except as the color of dresses and ribbons. A summer on the beach at the age of 4 probably gave me a little pink nose and the freckles that I later hated in high school...as I picked up little pink seashells and watched the pink and orange sunsets in all their spendor.
I then moved on to ballet, where the pink tights and ballet shoes were worn as I was taught to channel that incredible energy into something somewhat productive. Miss Nancy taught us how to twirl and tap and even tried to get me on pointe...an impossible feat for my tender toes.
Pink...the color of the French dressing that my mother made for our salads because eating anything else that was green with the exception of LeSeuer peas was an impossibility. I still make that French dressing but add pickle relish and call it homemade Thousand Island.
The color of bubble gum - still forbidden at times - but apparently not often enough as evidenced by the condition of my molars with their oh so lovely mercury fillings. I also know that putting peanut butter on gum in your long hair can get it out so that cutting it is not necessary. I suppose that the reason I know that is...experience.
I saw pink with the baby dolls I owned, the Barbies I begged for but never completely bonded with properly and in pictures of the Beatrix Potter books purchased by my grandmother and great-aunt...who lovingly inscribed their good wishes for a Happy Birthday or a Merry Christmas inside.
Pink was the color of the Pepto-Bismol that soothed a sour stomach and tasted like the wintergreen Life Savers that my Dad carried and shared with me from time to time. It was also the color of candy apples made by the Kitchens Family a few blocks away on Halloween. They owned the bakery downtown, and if you could get there before they ran out...it was considered excellent luck. Well, maybe those were actually red, but whatever.
Of course, when the fair came, so did the pink cotton candy, the rides, and the cool Fall air.
The cake baking contest that I won in the sixth grade was sometime around Valentines' Day and featured a heart shaped white cake with pale pink icing and a camellia from my grandmother's yard placed on top. It was not the prettiest cake, but I have never forgotten they joy of seeing the ribbon on my entry.
Later, pink became the color of the button-down shirt that I wore when "The Preppy Handbook" was a staple of life, and everyone wanted to be named Muffy. Pink became paired with green at each and every opportunity, and we enthusiastically wore pink plaid and white Keds as we listened to such timeless classics as Rick James' "Superfreak" and Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes." (Yeah, I know...one extreme to the other. But this is MY story...)
And then came the happy day in 1983 when I was enthusiastically greeted with a pledge class of wonderful girls into Phi Mu. Pink was there...in the carnations and the decorative touches in the chapter room...a place where I spent an extraordinary amount of time because it felt like home on that sofa. I can still see the beautiful faces of my sweet sisters during a ceremony where I let them in on the secret that I was engaged. It was October 1984.
And that next summer, my bridesmaids dutifully wore the pale pink dresses and watched me marry David as they held little baskets with pink carnations and baby's breath. My china, naturally, prominently featured the color pink.
About four years later, after praying diligently for a little one, I brought in my pregnancy test and showed my friend, Kay, who was working with me at the time. It was the palest pink possible...but it was pink enough. Eight months later, my Jill was born. Her nursery had plenty of pink garments in the closet and a wallpaper border of my beloved Beatrix Potter characters that was a huge splurge purchase for us at the time since we also had a mortgage and had no idea how we were going to make it all work out...but it did.
As she grew, Jill fell in love with the color combination of pink and red, and insisted on wearing it together fairly often. Valentines' Day was a day of peace for me...and with my little strong willed one...I took every day of peace that I could get. I also find it ironic that she currently attends The University of Alabama (crimson) and is a Phi Mu there (pink). Prophetic? Possibly.
That same brand of pregnancy test was run two years later after my busy life had me totally confused as to which end was up. This time, the little pink dot was fuschia, and seven months later, little Brian was born. I didn't dress him in pink. It just didn't suit him...
A few years later, I realized that I had been blessed with the survival of a mother who had breast cancer in 1972 and a great-aunt who had recently been diagnosed. I heard about the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Days, and figured that 60 miles in three days was possible if I could raise the money to participate. Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, I did that walk in 1999 and 2000, and had the tee shirts to prove it. The first year, I walked all but seven miles. The second year...I walked every step. The pink...a color adopted by the cause...was so prominent during those walks...and seeing it used for the cause still inspires me. I love that the Komen family took the loss of one of their own and were determined to bring something positive out of the ashes. I have seen that replicated by two organizations in my town...and I love the spirit of these women and the work that they do to serve others.
The color pink graced my neck (a feather boa) at a banking convention where I also had a tiara on my head. So lovely! It was actually my majorette tiara from high school since I have never had a crown upon my head otherwise. The highest honor I received in the pageant realm was winning the "Spirit of Junior Miss" Award in high school. I treasure that memory, and am still awed that this honor was bestowed upon me.
The second honor that still makes me a little teary was when my baby girl ran with the other Phis to the Phi Mu house at The University of Alabama last year during Recruitment. Her beautiful little self with her new white jersey with the pink letters that meant Phi Mu...and a smile on her face showing not only that she was proud...but that she knew her Mama was as well. You just can't buy that kind of happiness...although I do get a sorority bill every month that suggests that perhaps I can...and that I do.
Now I wear pink a great deal of the time because it just makes me happy. Pink toenail polish makes me feel normal...more like myself. David and I (okay...DAVID) painted Jill's room at home a lovely shade of Phi Mu pink during Rush Week last year because I was tired of the lime green and neon pink that had been on the walls for the five years prior to her graduation. Had she pledged anything else, that room still would have been pink. I go in there when I miss her terribly and wonder how it is possible that the past 19 years have flown by so quickly. Oh, I was warned...like all new mothers are...but the reality of how fast it goes was shocking.
Pink is simply the color of "happy" to me. It is the color of azaleas in the spring that signify that warmer weather is on its way. It is the color of laughter in my mind. I now dress my sweet niece in pink at every opportunity, and enjoy watching the little thing grow up in the "sorority" of our family. I even had the chance to paint her little toenails this summer...of course, pink, and she sat so very still that I knew she was trying extra hard to be a "big girl."
As I grow older, I have seen how the color pink has been woven all through my life and through the happy memories. I see the tiny faces of the puppies Dixie had and their little pink noses, the pink erasers that I loved so much in elementary school, pink lemonade on a hot summer day, or pink pastel mints at my baby shower when I thought that Jill would never get here all those years ago.
So, when you see pink sometime...think happy. Think of something fun, and delicious, and girly. Think of courage and the strength of women who battle cancer and who change the world. Let it be the magic color that it is...of flowers, joy, sweetness...and of life. Next time you see it...smile...support...and savor the moment. Pink is unique. It runs the spectrum from the palest pink, to the brightest magenta...my favorite color in the Crayola 64. It can be classy or it can be fun...it can be soothing...or it can be shocking. But it is never boring! Later!