Please be aware that this story contains harsh language.
I have a terribly debilitating kind of color blindness, and I didn’t even realize it until now, twenty minutes before I’m going to die. There aren’t many things that I’m certain of, but this twenty-minute thing, I’m pretty damn sure about. I’m lying in a hospital bed, listening to the instruments chirp. The only thing I want to know is why the hell did I not know about this color blindness before now, with twenty minutes left to go.
It’s a very specific kind of color blindness: I can still see red, I can still see green, I can still see blue, and yellow. Orange and purple, too. Even Mahogany, Turquoise, Magenta, and Ochre. It’s gold that I have trouble seeing.
True, piercing gold, with a metallic sheen that bites through light and glitters like a beacon. That’s the kind I can’t see. To my sprightly eyes, it just doesn’t show up. And if it does, it looks more like silver.
At first this might not sound like much of a problem. It would seem to be much worse if I couldn’t see the red of a stoplight – Gold is rare. What is so important about seeing gold?
I passed right by a hefty chunk of gold when I was 22 – I was fresh out of college, ready to take on the world. I dropped my gloves and bared my knuckles, only to find out a couple of steps later that life is not a boxing match. It’s not even a knife fight. Life is a bloody drive-by, and if you’re lucky, you might get a couple of shots in, too. Just don’t show up expecting to use your knuckles.
A week after I interviewed for one of those well-paying jobs that make parents proud, a Silicon Valley startup offered me a full-time position. It barely paid enough for me to afford rent. It looked like a lot of fucking silver, and the one thing I wanted to do at that point in my life was find gold. So I turned it down, took that well-paying job, and made my parents very proud. Now, nineteen minutes away from dying, I’m damn sure that it wasn’t silver.
The toughest part about not being able to see a color was knowing when I should’ve been seeing it.
When I was 26, I mistook gold for silver again, this time as a well-paid, well-established cubicle-confined bachelor. The first time I saw her, she glowed a bright metallic, and my eyes twisted the colors into a disorienting mash up of metals. We grew close, and in every instance, she behaved like gold, no signs of counterfeit. And yet, the only damn thing I saw was silver, and I was looking for gold. I bid farewell, and pawned her off for the price of silver.
Now, eighteen minutes away from dying, I’m damn sure that she wasn’t silver.
I kept waiting for gold to show up – that inevitably illusive sheen that hid itself from my eyes like darkness hides from light. And after every brilliant gleam of silver that graced my eyes, I always told myself: “Just wait a little bit longer, you’ll find that gold color eventually. I know you will. Everyone else has. You just have to wait a little bit longer.”
And I did. I waited, and waited, and waited, and am still waiting. I’m just hoping that if, by some miracle, something appears in front of me, I won’t be too color blind to know that it’s not silver.
I’m lying in a hospital bed, listening to the instruments chirp. Sixteen minutes to go, I’m sure of it. I shut my eyes, and think about all the times in my life I could remember seeing silver, and all I can do is wonder how many of those were actually gold.