Before the days of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or even before Myspace (what’s Myspace, you gray-haired Millenial?), there was a time where we didn’t rush to post our thoughts for the whole world to see. Even if you were smart enough to know how to build a webpage in the early 2000s, there was no unified online platform that allowed people unlimited access to your thoughts. And maybe, in this simpler time, this was the last chance for us to not only hear ourselves think, but to savor our thoughts before they can burn in the spotlight. Something as simple as a color that you learned on a color wheel in preschool could be seen in a new light–without starting a fight in the comments. Please enjoy,
We the Living
by Julie Dunaway
July 15, 2001
A beautifully foggy Sunday morning out here by the ocean (not a few feet away, but Berkeley is so close one might as well be), and I wanted to tell you I have rediscovered the color orange.
Or rather, discovered it in the first place. I never did like that color, even as a child. Was it my distaste, even then, for the tacky browns and oranges and yellows of worn clothes and cheap furniture in the 1970’s? Something about the shade I could never take seriously. I could never understand its appeal, not that I saw many ways it could be used well, anyway; it seemed both garish and laughable, like a clown or a cartoon on a television show (did I have a bad experience or something at the circus?). I could handle the color in a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with breakfast in the morning. But not even orange flowers appealed to me.
July 29, 2001
For some reason, I’ve been dreaming of 1980’s Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz’s work, “A Little Treatise on Colors”. Of oak leaves and leather bookbinding, pumpkins in the fields and the etymology of Norse forms, aspen’s copper and autumn in the valley of a New England river.
August 27, 2001
I bought the most beautiful sundress some time ago.
The sundress! Such a perfect name for this outfit, with the brilliant sunlit orange of the first layer combining with the deep rich orange of the layer beneath it, a marriage of colors both heavenly and tropical. The layers are almost sheer, remaining so even when one flows over the other—the shifting dream of a female figure beneath it in certain settings of light. Orange flowers with green stems travel across the sheer gauzy layer as though drifting on the late summer breeze.
A slit on one side exposes a strong, tan thigh, and the edges of the dress, swaying
asymmetrically, beckon with the most lighthearted, seductive flirtation. This dress was born for the Southern belle’s delicateness, and the sexual heat of Brazilian salsa!
September 9, 2001
The décor of the bathroom here in the North Berkeley apartment echoes a much older time, reminiscent of the “powder room” in a house in Redwood City (my grandparents’ home for forty years). Their guest bathroom, with its handheld pewter mirrors, dusting tins for body powder, and engraved sterling combs, truly came from another era, several generations back.
One Victorian style print in their bathroom, reflecting the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, showed men and women in head-to-toe beach attire, looking like they were dressed more for a formal community event rather than a fun day splashing about in the water. I thought carefree images like those would highlight our jade-green tiled bathroom perfectly. With shade-loving ferns, bundles of lavender sachets, and honey and aloe soaps engraved with flowers, the art style would have helped make an old dream new, would have given fresh spring life to a memory silent and dusted over with storied time.
And so it was much to my surprise to that the print I ended up purchasing was a honeyed gold-toned work of French painter Pierre August Cot, The Storm, with its impression of a storm approaching.
September 11, 2001
This page remains blank to memorialize the lives taken away in the terrorist attacks.
September 26, 2001
The web page http://www.imageexchange.com/posters/mma/3030.shtml gave me a brief background on The Storm. Cot created the original in 1880 using oil on canvas. In his time, he was famous for portraits for Parisian aristocracy, but modern-day followers prefer his daydreams of pre-Raphaelite lovers swept up in arduous, youthful romance. Part of his training included the study of classical antiquity and mythology; The Storm was thought to illustrate a scene from Daphnis et Chloe, an idyllic romance by Longus (Greek, 3rd or 4th c. A.D.).
The protective wrap the young couple tosses overhead, tightly clutching the slight ends, was definitely a variant of orange, a shimmering heavy gold suggesting the sheen of lustrous cloth. Beneath it, the young woman’s romantically curled hair shone a reddened bronze, a fiery contrast to her luminescent skin.
And the ground could not be called orange by any means, and yet most of the path they ran upon had the look and feel of warm European soil, heated all afternoon in a late summer-like day of fall.
October 20, 2001
My friend had designed her own wedding invitations for the big day this past September 15th. The invitation cover, a cutout overlay of autumn-bronzed leaf foliage, gleams slightly metallic. When raised, the pattern beneath it is revealed, a very dark burnt orange turning to crimson in a circular Celtic design. It’s almost hypnotic, difficult to take your eyes off it.
The entire wedding really was mesmerizing, between the beauty of all the families and loved ones, extraordinarily delicious food prepared by friends of the new couple who were professional chefs, the bride herself in her fairy tale gown, and the dappled autumn sunlight filtering through the trees (a light called komorebi in Japanese) at Lake Tahoe.
It’s beautiful to see life continuing, to know that rather than postpone the marriage due to 9/11, the families chose to gather in unity and strength (even though waiting would have been understood as well), that they chose to fight back by remembering and living instead.
October 29th, 2001
A new love interest gave me a gerbera daisy recently, a vibrant tangerine hue, colored like a hand-painted sunset. It was easy to imagine it as a wildflower by the ocean, bending and fluttering in the wind on a sand-whipped dune before the salty waves and the very gray sky, beside dune grasses fluttering in the ocean breeze, right where the first light illuminating the waves could catch it, at every dawn in a new beginning—for we the living, who recall those who have passed, and live in remembrance of them by engaging fully in every day.
* * * *
“…our name, Portokalos, is come from the Greek word ‘portokali’, which mean ‘orange’.”– Gus Portokalos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding
In her own words!
“Living in Northern California most of my life, I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the very impressive museums, art galleries, and striking oceanside views available here. I recently was able to experience the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in San Francisco with my beloved aunt, and at great risk of sounding like I’m comparing art forms (which I am so definitely not), I hope this journal entry / brief memoir We the Living (formerly A Season of Orange) might actually have been something that an artist like Van Gogh might have liked. For the brightly strewn colors and all. I do. And for both the life and terrible grief faced in the midst of them. I hope that the autumn swirl of colors and ideally inspirational message at the end can be appreciated by others as well.”