I grew up not thinking much about rainbows, but seeing them often.
As a toddler, I recall that they only really came into play in one of two instances: when it rained, which is when one or both of my parents would direct my attention to them, or else whenever children's products and apparel would be colored to represent it.
I was fascinated one time when someone at school showed me a xylophone in rainbow colors. I may have been in first grade. I wasn't allowed to play with it at length, and really get to know it. So I still feel like that was a lost opportunity.
Later, I discovered the world of Rainbow Bright and Care Bears. Rainbows were tools used by these characters for unity, positivity, and happiness. Apparel or toys from these two lines were a little bit like an emblem to wear proudly.
Around that same time it was popular to create banner art using quadrille paper and color markers. Usually we made ones that had our name in the middle in black and a rainbow color background, or reversed, the rainbow color lettering with a black or white background.
Later yet, I learned that a rainbow became the symbol of gay pride and rights (the rainbow flag). My limited knowledge of gays at the time having grown up in Catholic school (I knew casually gay men who were hair stylists, saw Italian fashion designers on TV, and was amazed by transvestites), was that many had flair and were outspoken. I thought that a rainbow was a perfect symbol for seeking happiness and progress.
Some time later, I found out Europeans use the rainbow flag with the word peace or pace (Peace Flag) as a symbol and tool of peaceful protest. I wondered if they had finally become enlightened into the gay pride movement, but they were actually protesting war (2002 Iraq).
In high school, one of our religious sisters (Order of Saint Francis of Assisi), in charge of the office and the PA system, would often end her morning PA announcement saying: "and have a rainbow day!" or "have a bee-utiful day." On occasion she would go all out and say "have a bee-utiful rainbow day." By senior year, it was almost a game to wait for it and giggle or snicker while giving furtive glances to our friends. I could be wrong but I think that was Sister Amanda. I don't remember. Bless her.
These days, I don't think much about rainbows. But they still do something involuntary: sort of elevate my mood whenever I spot one. These days, they think of so many places to put rainbows: children's apparel, bags and personal items, on flags, or anywhere else the can think of adding it to. Like the Westboro Equality House--which I'm seeing often this week. I just love the color scheme, the statement, and the peaceful protest.
Sadly, rarely do I spot a rainbow in the sky after the rain anymore. It's such a treat to see one. Like nature speaking to me. Calm after the storm. Sometimes I see part of a prism just out of the blue. I did the other day as I was walking from my car to work. I miss the double, and sometimes triple, rainbows of my childhood in Mexico. Those were spectacular.
But I like coming up on one unexpectedly. I see it as a sign of hope and things to come. Good times ahead. I am going to try to look for more rainbows. Do you look for rainbows in your life?