Some time ago I read some legends of a stranger folk; folk with skin of a strange color, some darker and some with different hues altogether. I knew it couldn't really be true; everyone is the same pale beige and that's the way it's always been. Only divine intervention could cause such a drastic intonation of skin; yet these impossible myths had always fascinated me.
I gaze in the mirror every morning, and each morning I am fascinated once again. I attempt to dress simply as according to the status quo for males of my age: plaid blue cotton button-down shirt paired with khakis. It had always been an unconscious, effortless choice, but only recently did I discover its endless chamber of mysteries. Before long, I had descended down the stairs of abyssal curiosity, developing a monomaniacal obsession with the impact of these legends. Take the cotton, the featherweight, heart-warming (and pretty expensive) fabric, or the buttons that adorn the front of my shirt. I've read legends that explain the origins of cotton, the inventors of buttons. Legends that refer to chocolate-brown farmers discovering cotton in ancient Asia, and chocolate-brown tailors fixing buttons to secure their cloth. As I don my shirt I feel the silky-soft embrace of cotton, encapsulating me and hinting at a people long gone--oh, chocolate brown! Such a beautiful tone, could it exist?
There are other colors in myth, some closer to my home. Legend has it my region of North America had once been populated by colored tribes of contrasting cultures; these tribal groups developed their own government, their own theologies. They created their own situation, diffusing and growing to rival each other. Of course, it must be legend; the basic history of our country reflects only pale-beige inhabitants.
The buttons, the shirt, the khakis and the fabric--everything that adorns me could be the artifacts of these forgotten people. Could be. I asked my teacher once, of civilizations beyond our own. She had never heard of any; she had never asked.
Legend speaks of other civilizations within Asia--more complex groups, with people of pale-with-a-tinge-of-yellow skin and elegant form. Myths nest themselves within myths, as mythologies of folk heroes, gods and goddesses erupt from a mythical culture itself--hierarchies of tales resting on a people that likely do not exist.
I've spent many a sleepless night imagining the world with skin color, a world of varying shades of elegance. Yet as I search for the answers to my indefinite curiosity, I am met only by a fleeting barrage of questions.
I imagine a world of these colors, what each day would entail: a life characterized by shades of beauty. What of a world with colored humans--what would they eat? There are myths of exotic foods, mixtures of salt and spice that blend into awesome aromas and delicate dishes, mouth-watering meals and succulent sweets. What would they wear? I can only draw from paintings: vivid and vibrant veils, dreamy and dynamic dresses. I see white-robed-chocolate-skin laborers and golden-robed-glowing-yellow craftsmen. How would they speak? Urban legend cites foreign languages of complex characters and vicious vocabularies, fluent speech comparable to melodious music.
As I burrow further into these legends, I can only extrapolate each character, meshing these wonderful people of color together into a distracting diversity. My brows furrow and my eyes squint, as each question answered yields ten more unanswered.
There is one mystery, however, that remains untouched. If they did exist, what happened to them?