You Ain’t Never Been Blue
Blue is the color of the sky when I tell myself all is well. It’s not a universal feeling. This is for Nina.
In the 2014 French film Bande de filles (translated to English as Girlhood), there is a “Rihanna scene,” as it has come to be known because of its “Diamonds” soundtrack, which washes the phenomenal actresses in shades of mood indigo. But the more emotionally overwhelming current of blue light—the tags on the stolen clothes, the lonely aspiration to fit in, the endless striving, the jaded sociality—is easily swept under the rug if you take the clip on its own. Instead of blue, there is a certain kind of movement, an off-key chorus, a long moment held capture in the girls’ makeshift sanctuary in the city.
Nina Simone sings of a “little girl blue.” A mood. A sound. A space. But not this sky. A recipe for dis-ease.
When you look up for a sanctuary, the sky looks back at you and says, you ain’t never been blue. I don’t dare it.
French Girlhood screenwriter and director Céline Sciamma’s blue is not far off from the many blues in Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. Nelson writes in her numbered fragmentary essay-poems, number 17 of 240: “But what goes on in you when you talk about color as if it were a cure, when you have not yet stated your disease.” This is not followed by a question mark. I can’t write without reading first, during, and after.
The expanse of what’s to come.
“Blue” is what I would say when I was small and still quiet. I would say that “blue” was my favorite color because it was the first thing that came to mind. Not wanting to know any better, I saw it as easy. Blue is a thing with a terrifying range from the brightest day to the lowest feeling, the widest up-above and the smallest chip of polish. It is a serious color, if a color is what it is. There is a small kind of tyranny that blue brings, the banality of it is something written about over and over again, either as sweetness and lightness or a subtle and dark mood.
I had been running. I had been learning how to run. I preferred the park, where I didn’t have to contend as much with criss-crossing people. It was always early, but not early enough to be alone. This is New York, but it could have been any city, anywhere I could be alone among the crowd. Let me be lonely, I want to scream. I feel only the pastel blue striking the grass. A glean in the littered soda can. Don’t stop. Don’t stop until it hurts. Until you’ve passed the sign and broken it all down.
Under the infinite blue sky, lucidity is an roadblock, always monstrous. The café is more or less empty today. It takes me seven tries to log on to the wifi and then I’ve forgotten the point. I know what I’m meant to be doing, lying outside and staring up up up and away, but why drive through the beach of bodies when all I’ve got is skin? I rotate the wind-rushed caravan and climb on top.
*Featured image by Blanche Grambs
Tiana Reid is a writer from Toronto. Her work has been published in Bitch, Full Stop, Mask Magazine, The New Inquiry, The Toast, VICE, and more. She is also a doctoral student in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.
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