My Lizard Brain and a Disquieting Color Scheme

Right now, it feels like Western Maryland College outside, and in a few weeks, when the days are bright but chilly, it will feel like the UPS guy.

A therapist I may or may not have seen when I may or may not have needed a therapist says it’s well-recognized that the feel of a season can evoke a particular feeling or memory. This phenomenon helps to explain why I’m suspicious of Memorial Day—especially if hot dogs are involved—and why the spring rains make me scared I’ll fall apart. The body, said that therapist I may or may not have seen, has a memory.

It’s a beautiful and sobering reminder that we aren’t just cerebral beings. That we’re animals, sensitive to our environments and driven by the primitive parts of our brains.

I’m in awe of the little tug of memory that I sense before I can define or explain it.

During the last burning days of August, no matter what I’m doing, in my lizard brain I’m anxious—to step into a new school year as a better version of myself. I’ve set goals. My carefully-chosen outfit is hanging up; all my shiny new folders are waiting in my bag, and on my dresser, whichever undereye concealer Seventeen has deemed the best that year.

I’m taking a deep breath and walking up to the edge.

***

People seem nice at the new school, but the first visit left me disquieted for one reason: the colors.

Although most of the walls are white cinder block, some of them are painted SALMON.

Others are painted PEACH.

And others are painted a dingy, institutional YELLOW.

“That sounds like a baby spit up peaches and bananas,” said my friend Kathy.

“Precisely,” I said. “Or like a salmon exploded. Or like a bunch of people ate salmon and then threw it all up. During an 80s wedding. On Easter.”

Like this. Only after everybody got sick from improperly-prepared salmon and puked all over the place.
Like this. Only after everybody got sick from improperly-prepared salmon and puked all over the place.

In my classroom, the bookshelf along the wall is peach, the counter on top salmon, two walls yellow, the carpet dark blue, and the chairs beige and purple.

This is the shittiest color scheme I have seen since 2005, when I had a panic attack in an Albertson’s grocery store. I’m not using the term “panic attack” humorously. That year was one of my most anxious, and after having been on a road trip for a month with my horrible then-boyfriend, the blue-and-orange floor tiles and signage at this unfamiliar purveyor of groceries was the proverbial last straw. It didn’t help that we’d recently stopped at a grocery store that appeared in every discernible way to be a Safeway, but was in fact called “Vons.” Don’t play with my fragile sense of security by calling it something it’s not. Is it Safeway, or is it Vons? Make up your fucking mind! I can’t take being yanked around like that. Especially while stranded in another part of the country with a pot-smoking nutcase in a sarong.

This is roughly what I was looking at when I 100% lost my shit. Just looking at the picture is freaking me the fuck out.
This is roughly what I was looking at when I 100% lost my shit. Just looking at the picture is freaking me the fuck out.

My new school’s repugnant color scheme sent me right back to that unfamiliar and ugly grocery store. Deep in my lizard brain, I was once again rootless. Floating, alone.

2 thoughts on “My Lizard Brain and a Disquieting Color Scheme

  1. 2 things: I love your tags. 🙂 and I very much am affected by smells, colors and seasonal changes and don’t always recall the memory. Love your post…funny even if about unfunny things too. Good luck with your new school and the awful colors..any convincing them to paint your room??

  2. Having been the New Teacher so many times (thank you, US military), but never having had the wherewithal to keep a good record of what goes on in the New Place the First Year, I look forward to living vicariously. You’re jumping in to this one for posterity, Abby! Good luck to your amygdala and all your nervous system.

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