The downstairs classrooms of my Catholic grade school were each painted a different color. All the walls were the same uneven stucco, a bump here or there calling out to me to run my hand over them. Sometimes in the rush to line up for morning prayers, an overzealous classmate would push me into the wall and a sharp stucco glob would jab me in the arm. The classrooms of the lower grades downstairs were each painted a primary color. The first grade classroom was the garish yellow of yield signs. The second grade room was a flat tomato red, and so on. Upstairs, where the upper grades were located, the walls were painted in soft pastels, the colors of babies rooms long forgotten.
I suppose the point was to stimulate your thoughts in the low grades, and calm you down when you reached adolescence. I was in fourth grade, one year away from that prized, magical transformation everyone thought happened the minute you set foot in the upper floor classrooms. The kids that had been downstairs with us the year earlier were now admired from afar because they became part of the