By Amir Naveh
If you’ve ever done tie dye, you know it’s a lot like the story of your life.
There is a ton of color.
Some are blues, tranquil yet melancholy as they bleed. My tie dye also carries many spills of red, deeply warm with strokes of endearing crimson. Yours is warm too, because the yellow paint stands out, whimsically happy, and seeps slowly into the other colors, fading over time.
Proper tie dye is created by squeezing out the excess colors after they soak. After some time, the core colors remain.
Squeeze Number 1:
The fourth grade student spoke into the microphone in a voice unencumbered that she’d never used before. “It doesn’t matter if you are a butterfly, or even if you’re a unicorn - just be who you are.” Absolutely, I thought. As silly of a remark as it was, the sheer whimsical and unapologetic childhood wisdom was inspiring. I helped pilot a nonprofit program at my school for low-socioeconomic elementary school students to originally write and cast a screenplay as a showcase for their school body and parents.
The first squeeze is relieving, like an epiphany.
Squeeze Number 2:
I walked through the doors of a friend’s apartment. He lived with two other gay roommates. They let their apartment be a welcome home to a network of gay friends who would meet each week to watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race, socialize, and party. The point was solely community-no one felt more comfortable anywhere else. And truly, we couldn’t help but name it Church. Ironic as it was, I never missed a service.
The colors were unearthly. Sometimes something can be so beautiful it can be hard to remember exactly what it looks like.. It’s like a brilliant kaleidoscope each time around.
Squeeze Number 3:
I visited a seminary in Jerusalem on an organized trip. We were scheduled to have an educational hour for discussion with a rabbi. The rabbi I spoke to insulted my identity in our discussion but I immediately stood up for myself. My own rabbi from Los Angeles apologized for it and said he was proud that I was proudly Jewish and gay. I then recall feeling such a mixed disposition when I fell for a guy at a gay bar in Jerusalem. When we had our Shabbat dinner with our trip overlooking the Western Wall that night, the shades of antique gold from the temple stones couldn’t be overlooked. Spirit seems to float in the air there, a warm golden color that lines the city walls and streets.
Squeeze Number 4:
The mass shooting in Orlando at Pulse Nightclub happened the night before my graduation. Some of the most formative years in my life were book ended by one of the most formative experiences in US history. I can’t remember how many times I watched Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award speech. “Nothing is promised,” he said.
You see black in times like these.
Squeeze Number 5:
Almost finished. I’ve always wanted to learn to dance, and dance well. I finally took beginner ballet lessons this year. With each turn that we do, it’s like a chrysalis emerging. Or perhaps like Bambi for the first few years, but surely a chrysalis in the making.
Every plié is a royal purple.
Squeeze Number 6:
This past June I marched in the San Francisco pride parade with the company that I work for. There is so much pride surrounding from all around the world. The things that people think need hiding, are nothing short of magical. There is so much depth to their truth and that power is frightening. Its indigo. It’s light pink. It’s green. It’s teal. It’s orange. It’s beige. It’s human.
When the water has gone clear, undo all of the ties and let the tie dye breathe. The spiral unravels and the designs remain. It takes some work, but the time in is transformative for what you’re making. A few hours later, it’s dry and the colors are vibrant.
See, I don’t believe, though, that the world is getting any kinder. People are today as they have always been throughout time, just now ornamented by so many artificialities-everything and nothing all at the same time. However, looking back on pride month, my gut feeling (or hope) is that the world might in fact turn kinder.
It’s already September now. Reflecting on it some time later, I know that in any month and at any time, if we try, perhaps we can make it a little brighter by loving the color around us.