The simple act of seeing something new can change your life.
Before this June, I didn’t know that cars came in brown.
I have no recollection of ever seeing a brown car. The phrase “brown car” strikes no chord of familiarity. There has been no: “Look for the brown car” or “She has a brown car” or “I’m looking at a new hatchback — what do you think of brown?” No “Your car is such a nice shade of brown.” Of all the colors and metallic tones that are applied to the vehicular family, I have never, ever considered the existence of brown.
And then Steve and I flew to Aspen. This is the airport from which we travel down-valley through the red-earth sage mountains to Carbondale to visit my brother and his family. This was the trip we took to watch my niece, Taya graduate from high school. This was the trip where our plane was so early, my sister-in-law Tracey wasn’t there yet to pick us up, so when we called her she told us to go stand at the arrival curb and look for her new car — a “brown truck.”
“Tracey has a new truck,” I said to Steve who was already looking down the street for her arrival.
“It’s . . . brown,” I said. “Brown? Have you ever seen a brown car?”
“It’s a truck, love.”
“Whatevs,” I shrugged. “I don’t even know what to look for. A brown truck. Is that like a light brown or dark or is it a metallic? Is it beige or a mustardy diarrhea brown? Is it like a big poo on wheels?”
“OK, OK,” my husband said. “It’s brown. We’ll find out soon.”
I am a great lover of colors — the more the merrier. I am known for putting an orange cardigan over a pink t-shirt; I have a theory that colors go together not because of the color wheel but because they are from the same family — color. I show up to swim workout in suits with flower patterns on orangey-yellow or vertical pastel stripes; you will rarely see me in black. Or brown. I am so much not a fan of brown, that I have dismissed it. Brown is dead to me. Maybe the problem is my own coloring — medium brown hair, olive skin, hazel eyes. I myself, while being a white woman, am brownish in color. If I put more brown on me, I am going to look like a walking poo emoji.
When Tracey pulled up in her humongous beautiful brown truck it turned out to be a brown that was not light or dark, but somewhere in the middle with the slightest shimmer but not metallic. We threw our bags in the back, climbed in and my husband’s truck lust went into beast mode. He sat up front and petted the dashboard, turned around in his seat, surveyed the very enormous back seat area. He asked Tracey where she bought it, how she bought it; they compared trucks, shared truck stories, and talked about truck things while I pretend-nodded and stared out the window considering the color.
Brown. Brown car. My mind was locked on this pedestrian discovery. Maybe because it seemed like such an obvious existence, a brown car, and for 55 years it hadn’t even occurred to me as a possibility. How many other simple, RIGHT THERE under my nose treasures am I not seeing? What other wonders am I Snow White-sleeping myself through?
After we got to our hotel, disembarked and stood beside the behemoth truck with our luggage, all three of us nodding our approval, Steve talked about the actual truck, and I clucked on about the color. “You know, I like it,” I said to the thin Colorado air, because the other two were engrossed in how this truck compares to my brother, Michael’s truck.
The more we drove around in the Brown Truck, the more I became smitten with this particular color of golden brown. Imagine a mud puddle with a brick of dark chocolate stirred in, and then the sun shining on it. Like brown hair with subtle highlights that look sun kissed.
The more I looked at this brown truck, the more I really, really liked it.
Here I was, having a brown car awakening, which sounds trite but think about it. Any of us can have our own kind of awakening of a different variety. For example: Someone you work with might show you a flicker of her wry sense of humor, and the more you spend time with this person they morph because you are seeing them through a new mindset, you are awakened to their funny-ness, and you’re LOOKING FOR IT, and you can play in that space with your co-worker too, creating something new together. From here, you look to see who else is secretly funny and GOOD GOD so many people are funny in their own sweet unique way, now that you’re looking, really looking for people’s humorous bent, it’s everywhere, you’re cracking up all the time now — how did you not see this before?
When we drove to the park to walk the dog, we parked a few spots away from the nearest car — which happened to be another gigantic truck in the same shade of brown.
“What the hell?” I semi-shouted. “Is that your car over there?”
“Close, but not quite,” Steve said.
“Tracey, I’ve NEVER noticed a brown car until today and look at that — another one, almost identical. TRUCK, I mean.”
For four days in Colorado, I pointed out every brown car. “Another one!” I elbowed Steve. “And look, over there!”
“Maybe it’s because there’s more dirt here, and it blends in,” Steve reasoned.
“Maybe,” I said running down the street after another car that might have been brown.
But when we arrived home, good god, you would have thought a mega shipment of brown cars was let loose in our metropolis because there were BROWN CARS everywhere. Light brown, dark brown, medium brown, a strange Mr. Pibb cherry-brown color, some nice golden browns that I am coming to really like (watch out, next car!).
It’s like a game now, and I’m looking for them, even when I think I’m not. “Brown car!” I cry out when Steve and I are driving to my god daughter’s wedding. At a family dinner on Father’s Day, sitting in my step-son’s backyard where there’s a peekaboo view to the street, I saw another brown car drive past. “BROWN CAR!” I wanted to yell (but didn’t), just like our grandson yells out GARBAGE TRUCK or DIGGER when he sees one.
As I motor through my island suburb, seeing all the brown cars, I’m tickled. This game is getting my mind meandering: What else is like a brown car? What other areas of life can I turn into a brown car? What have I never thought possible, or in existence, or consider-able that, like brown cars are there for me, in the realm of possible, within reach?
What if brown cars are like opportunities? What if they are jobs, or great relationships or an idea that you have about a business but until now have thought I don’t do my own business? What if that brown car is like the book you want to write, or the class you want to take? My “no brown cars” could be your “no fun at work” and all you need is to see ONE glimpse of fun at work and you can start looking for more glimpses — for more BROWN CARS. You might see fun is everywhere, once you start looking, noticing.
This afternoon, I had to confirm the brown car phenom. I went out to the garden, where Steve was watering the plants and asked:
“Love, you know Tracey’s brown car?”
“Yeah,” he laughed, flicking the hose off.
“Have there always been brown cars?”
“Well, they’ve been there, I’ve seen them but I never really liked them so I didn’t think much about them. Now I’m really noticing them.”
“Do you think it’s a fad, or have there always been this many?” I think it’s a fad, but I don’t say so.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged, turning the hose back on. “We’re not getting a brown car!”
We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll continue looking out for brown cars — and consider all the other yet-unseen opportunities of the non-brown car variety.
How about you?