Brown Day


This past week I’ve had a few brown days — not the blues– not too terribly sad, but brown. A friend once met an ex -boyfriend of mine and later when I asked for her impression of him, she described him as “brown” — meaning his aura was brown. I knew exactly what she meant. Not overtly negative or dark, but brown – dull, snide, heavy, without dimension.

A nothing/non color maybe, if viewed in a certain way. But a color that is immediately felt and one you don’t care to be around for very long. Brown saturates.

I don’t have mania, but I struggle with depression. Usually it is the pernicious low-grade type that can really ruin things for me. Not black, but sort of brown.

When I am brown, it’s as if I am looking through a pinhole in a piece of paper. My eye is trained on only that one tiny spot. There is no sparkly peripheral. I am locked into a static mindset – seeing neither the bright, neon highs nor the deep, inky lows. Unable to appreciate the spectrum that gives texture and richness and joy. Brown can suck the energy from the day.

Whether it’s the emotional fallout from my husband’s accident and a long week of trips to the doctor, or the general fretting over him. I have a headache too and I can never really know or predict why. Brown just seeps into my dominant hue.

So on Sunday we ride rental bikes – old, safe, fat-tired ones. And we gingerly feel our way along the city paths, each of us conscious of the other’s mood. Flexing the fear muscles, wondering how brave to be, or how stupid?

My husband is back to 100 percent, full- tilt energy. His long legs expertly pump up the hill in front of me – scraped up knee hidden under his jeans. And I snake slowly behind, feeling heavy, put-out, tired.

I am hyper-cautious and poised for collision at every intersection. Twitchy, as if it was me with the concussion.The helmet feels pinchy and threatens to exacerbate my headache.The bike’s front tire wobbles with my slow pace.

I’m willing myself to keep steady but also really trying to feel free and adventuresome. Sweat from my armpits runs down my sleeves as I death grip the sticky handlebars.

He is all airy smiles and  playful challenges: “do you want to go to Cham?” “Ok, sure,” I say.

He knows I’m feeling like a baby, petulant and irritable for some unnamed, unknown reason. But he can’t know how things just feel too hard, too complex, not worth it – a struggle. And for what?

When we feel down, what can hurt the most is the added layer of sadness when we know we are being a drag to others, to those we love. We want to be pink and peppy and joyful, but brown permeates.

It adds a layer of shame on top of it all.

Because we are hardest on ourselves, harder than anyone else could ever be.  Because we so want to bring the yellow and green back into the panorama. And our fear is that we will spread the brown – and we would never wish that brown on anyone.

The weather is truly glorious, Lake Zug is a shimmering portrait and there are even para-gliders floating above the mountain peaks. I tuck all this away to appreciate in full HD on some other day.

My husband understands, after many years, that sometime’s it’s going to be this way – me plodding and grumping and existentially brooding. We can exhaust ourselves trying to dissect why I am this shade, but that’s not worth a hoot.

In the end, it’s just something we must ride out. Like the fat, bloated tires rolling over rock and rut – we’ve committed to bump and blunder along together. No turning around, but no great adventure ahead either. Nothing dramatic or particularly meaningful in it, it’s just a rough scrabble of dirt to navigate, without a pithy memory or a smiley photo to save.

We simply recognize that sometimes we just have to slog through these hard excursions and then call it a day.

A brown day.

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