My first kung fu sash was bright, satiny-soft red. Later on, I was given bright red cotton pants, a sign that I was one of the dedicated kids who could go far if I worked hard enough. Those pants were simultaneously a badge of honor and of shame. In the studio, they stood out against the sea of black and white uniforms, marking me as responsible and hardworking and all of the other good things that kids are told to be. After class, though, I would have to shuffle through the library or the grocery store in my bright red pants. They stood out here as well, blaring color against the jeans and shorts that “normal” people wore. No one knew what they meant; I was just that weird kid in the puffy red pants. When I finally earned the matching crimson fringe ten years later, I was given a black sash. The red sash and red pants were returned to my top dresser drawer.
The apples growing on the tree in my backyard are somewhere on the delicate border between red and pink. When I was very young, my grandmother would teach me to gently wrap my fingers around each piece of fruit and tug, asking it, “Are you ready?”
The spine of the second Harry Potter book is red. It’s one of the shortest books (maybe even the shortest) in the series, but the red spine stands out anyway. I wanted to believe in Platform 9 ¾ so badly when I was younger. It wasn’t that I particularly wanted to go and live in a castle boarding school in the English countryside, as amazing as that sounds; I just wanted to keep believing in magic. Maybe that was because in the books that I read, those who believed in magic always came out better for it in the end; maybe I was just afraid that if I didn’t believe in magic I would miss out on something huge.
Nobody in my family eats red jelly beans besides me. When I crack the sugar outer shell with my teeth, hot, sweet, artificial cinnamon burns across my tongue.
Facebook notifications are red. It is super exciting to open up Facebook and see that little red flag and maybe that’s just because it’s summer and I have not had a life for about a month, but Facebook notifications are kind of like human interaction. It’s like someone recognized my existence and as shallow as that is, isn’t it what everyone wants from life?
Red ink. It oozes from English papers and math quizzes and history tests. I’ve heard that a lot of teachers are told to use other colors because it’s “less threatening” or something, but red is still the stereotypical teacher color. It’s what I automatically look for when I get anything back because I love being right, but since I can’t be right all of the time, knowing why I was wrong is the next best thing. I know I talk a ridiculous amount about how much I love school, but I honestly love getting projects and tests back, because as horrible as getting a bad grade feels, it’s better than waiting. Grades are a quantitative way of measuring how successful I am—there’s pretty much no other time in my life that I’m going to be able to see that. I think Sami might’ve talked about this before but I don’t have the exact link so I’ll just give credit like this.
My camera’s focus lamp is reddish-orange and I hate it. When my focus lamp comes on, it means that it’s probably too dark to take a decent photo, and even if I hold my breath and stand as still as I can, I am probably going to take a blurry photograph. No matter how hard I try, in all likelihood my focus lamp means that I’m going to miss out on a memory.
Red brake lights and traffic lights and stop signs and fire engine parking spaces are everywhere. I always wonder what would happen if we taught kids to play Red Light, Green Light, but switched the rules around and taught them to go on red and stop on green. I always tend to associate red with “stop” and “bad” and “danger.” Is that because stop means red, or is that why red means stop?
Red is just a color. It’s beautiful as it is, but it means nothing until we make something of it.