Shades of Grey

During my grade school and jr. high years, I had a wild crush on Davy Jones, of The Monkees. His deep brown eyes twinkled with such good humor and tenderness that it seemed, when I gazed into them (in a glossy photo taped to my wall), that we shared a private joke. I was certain we both laughed up our sleeves quite frequently at the folly of a world which, unfairly, kept us apart.

“Patience, luv,” I imagined Davy crooning in his British accent, “when you’re all grown up the world will not be able to keep us apart, eh what?”

Oh, but I had concerns of a more serious nature than my Davy Jones daydreams. Concerns of a sinister nature, had I been aware of them. The fact that I drifted through life unaware of so much helped me survive, but also left me numb and not a little naive. One of my favorite Monkees tunes was Shades of Grey:

When the world and I were young
just yesterday,
life was such a simple game
a child could play.

It was easy then to tell
right from wrong,
easy then to tell weak from strong;
when a man should stand and fight–
or just go along.

But today there is no day or night,
today there is no dark or light.
Today there is no black or white:

only shades of grey . . .

This song cut me to the quick every time. I wasn’t sure what it meant–I couldn’t afford that kind of knowledge. Had I understood, it would have been impossible to sit across the dinner table from my abuser and keep my steak knife to myself. Had I understood the implications of these lyrics, I would have taken up residence under a bridge rather than entrust my safekeeping to my mother’s deep resentment of me.

There’s an irony here, because for the first 7 years of my life I did see things clearly, in black and white. Nothing was murky or puzzling. I knew my place in the world, and it was pleasant and safe. I had a strong sense of justice and of right and wrong.

Sometimes, when one of my parts peeks through, I get that old sense of shades of grey. A nearly engulfing sadness permeates me, making every movement I make heavy and laden with care. I can’t help but grieve for that innocence I had no business holding on to for so long, but which I clung to because I had no choice. I really had no choice at all.

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(If only I’d had the powers of Jeannie!)

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2 thoughts on “Shades of Grey”

  1. i always liked peter. i most usually liked the guy no one else did. still seem to. kind of telling…
    i had no idyllic childhood…but it was my peers that gave me the troubles.
    i have more courage to write about these things because of you, and austin, and cat. i want to thank you for that. 🙂
    kïrstin

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