There’s something about colors. Which one we decide to wear, paint the walls of our home, or the shade of ink we write with, it means more than we give it credit for.
For me, there’s a lot of things about purple. It’s filled with vitality, memories, and reminders of the ephemeral aspect of life. Purple is Sydney, the favorite color of my friend that passed away in high school, exactly three and a half years ago today. Purple is her laugh bellowing through the room, it’s her kind smile shining in my memory, it’s her sarcastic jokes ringing in my ears. Yes, there’s something about purple.
For this reason, you can imagine how thrilled I was when we spent an hour of my favorite class- Popes, Politics and Popular Culture- discussing exactly what it is that draws us to each color.
We learned that red is the color of passion and excitement, and is associated with the Earth’s power. Blue, on the other hand, coincides with the power of gods, as we look to the blue sky for guidance and answers. Which makes purple, the mixture of red and blue, somewhere in between; it’s a balancing act. People who are drawn to purple, are drawn to balance.
Upon learning this, I began smiling to myself, unable to deny how it resonated. Even excluding all the paradoxical elements of my personality, my strong affinity for yoga alone shows my passion for balance.
While Sydney openly hated yoga, she was no stranger to balance.
Walk into the library of our high school, and you will find the powerful words of Sydney’s college essay. She describes herself as an enigma- possessing the speed and strength of a rugby player, with the grace and poise of a dancer. Not to mention, her outstanding intelligence and work ethic gained relief from her also dedicated social life.
While this country doesn’t have nearly enough purple, it has taught me more lessons regarding balance. Here are just a few of the many ways Italy has brought more equilibrium into my life-
1. Being Alone. After living in a sorority house, I thought I had been around the maximum amount of girls possible. Turns out that’s not the case. There’s something about going to classes, sharing apartments and socializing with the same people (predominantly females) that ends up being a lot. That’s why I enjoyed traveling by myself this weekend to the adorable town of Ferrara, doing something that fit my agenda perfectly- running a half marathon. While I am having a wonderful time with the people in my program, there’s something wildly rejuvenating about doing something for yourself, and by yourself. I quickly fell into the rhythm of this biking city and not once wished I had planned the weekend any differently.
2. The Food. This semester has provided me with the ability to let go. Kale is still my favorite food, but this carb focused nation has allowed me to realize how much of a difference quality ingredients make. The professor of my Sustainable Foods class, Sergio, who deserves a blog post of his own, is the ultimate foodie. So naturally I assumed he would know all the best restaurants and would be close with every high profile chef. Turns out, he only goes out to eat about once or twice a year. To be fair, if you had a private chef I’m not sure you would leave your glamorous apartment either, but Serg has more meaning behind this choice. He would prefer to eat at home- be able to choose and purchase the ingredients, decide the cooking process and create the final product. By adapting to this Italian diet, but by doing it from my apartment, I surprisingly have more control than I do in the US. Letting go has never been so easy.
3. A Sense of Community. We tend to picture Italians around the kitchen table, their entire family present, talking over each other while they pass giant plates of food. Turns out, this isn’t too far from the truth. However, I have noticed these close quarters and absence of boundaries most at my internship. Rather than being surrounded by cold cubicles or prestigious corner offices, Borghi Travel has one very large table that has 8 computers and chairs around the perimeter. As we continue to develop a greater online presence, send emails from rooms away and replace coffee dates with Skype calls, this style is refreshing. And it’s gaining momentum, think of Zappos, who a few months ago rid their company of stated leadership positions to create greater equality and responsibility throughout the company. In my opinion, they’re onto something. As the short-term, American intern, I feel more involved in the office culture than I would if I were tucked away in some cubicle. I can pick up on their conversations in Italian, based on context and facial expressions, something we forget the power of.
As I continue to surround myself with purple- clothes, my laptop cover, glasses for our apartment- I have noticed that at one point a specific shade surfaced as my favorite. I can’t pinpoint when this took place, but lilac is my ultimate weakness. As I sat in “lecture” learning about the meaning behind colors, an explanation presented itself.
Even though Sydney tended to rock all black- the color of mystery and obtained knowledge- it makes sense that the experience of knowing her lightened my color of preference the slightest bit. While I am drawn to balance, being given the privilege of knowing Sydney allowed me to see the value in all that the color white embodies- honesty, transparency and purity. Furthermore, it did the same for others. Sydney illuminated the honest truth that this life we tend to take for granted is not guaranteed. She balanced our careless mindsets and purified our intentions and goals. Although a heavy lesson for a senior in high school to learn, being granted the rare opportunity to call such a wonderful person your friend comes with responsibility. I’ll always think of her when I see purple, but now I realize that the presence of lilac is her thinking of us as well.