Issue 104 Apr 2022
1. The color pink
2. Dyed hair
Reagan ran a hand through his blond hair one last time. “I’m ready,” he said.
Kirk frowned. “Reagan, if you don’t want to….”
“Okay.” Kirk slipped his hands into the gloves and squirted the dye into one palm. “Last chance?”
“If you don’t want to ruin my life for me, I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself.” The words stung in Reagan’s throat, but he let them out anyway.
Kirk lay his non-dye-covered hand on Reagan’s shoulder. “If that’s how you see it, we definitely shouldn’t do this. I’m okay with waiting. I’m not saying I don’t want you to do this, but I’ll wait for you as long as you need.”
Reagan looked at the two of them in the mirror. Kirk shone. From his bright green eyes to his soft smile, it was clear he was happy. Reagan, on the other hand—his brown eyes were accentuated by dark circles like bruises from the nightmares of this day coming before he was ready. “It’s tearing me apart, K. I need you. I need this.”
“All right, then.” Kirk’s smile widened as he put his other hand into Reagan’s hair. As the pink color slowly covered the blond, Reagan’s smile slowly matched Kirk’s. “What do you think?” Kirk said.
Excerpt from Adamson Wood's upcoming book My Colors and I
When you’re a Latina growing up in West Virginia, population 93% white, Hispanics too few to count, blending in is hopeless. Especially when the differences between you and everyone else are more than just your dark skin, or the fact that your mama makes her own tortillas de harina because the supermarket ones are too pale, undercooked she says, like White people in general.
My first day of kindergarten, I knew less English than my fellow kindergarteners knew Spanish. That is to say, nil, nada, fewer words than fingers to count. We lived in a converted garage at the time. Just me and my mama. And since she, a Honduran immigrant who worked two jobs just to pay the rent—Dios le bendiga—initially knew little English herself, and the old lady who normally watched me during the day was Brazilian and spoke Portuguese, I didn’t exactly enter that classroom as a star pupil. That first day and week, whenever students asked how I was doing, I answered five. My favorite thing to do. Blue. I felt more lost than Cristopher Colombus “discovering” America. That's not to say I was the only person in that room struggling with my differences.
"Ms. Carta-jenya," said my kindergarten teacher on my first day till basically the end of the school year, not the way my mama said it, the way it was supposed to be said, the way anyone who took a Spanish class to learn the language rather than just to graduate from high school and go to college would say it. Cartageña. The letters lovingly sewn together like the patches in my worn-out jeans. Laced into one word, one name, one identity. Me. And not this Carta-jenya person, which took me five minutes of awkward silence to realize meant me.