What This Mustard-Colored House and My Son Have In Common


When we built our home 16 years ago, the entire block was a shade of brown.

There were dark brown homes, light brown homes, tan homes and taupe homes — each of them a shade of brown with a brown roof. We dared to be different. Our home is grey with a black roof. There were a few disapproving glances, but in the end, our house was a palatable color that the neighbors accepted without a fight.

As the years went on, home after home was built around us. There were fancier homes with stone and brick, ranches and two-story homes. And although each was a bit different, they all had one thing in common — brown.

One day a new home was built. It was up on a hill, majestically placed above the others. We watched each week as it went from a basement to a dwelling. This home was different; the only way I can describe it is part-adobe, part-colonial. And eventually, it came time to paint it. I assumed it would be one of the 50 shades of brown that already existed.

Nope. They painted the home a beautiful shade of mustard, and its pillars were a deep, rich burgundy.

I’m sure many were aghast that the owners would dare to veer so strongly against the norm. But there it stood in all its majestic beauty up on the hill as if to say, “Eff off, you boring brown homes; I am different, and I am proud!”

I loved that house, and each time I passed it on walks I remarked to my husband about it. He always said he thought it was a bit garish, but I stood firm in my support. Then, on one of our walks, I noticed the house was for sale. Summer came and went, and for whatever reason, I stopped venturing down that block during our walks — I took other paths and went down other streets.

But today on my morning walk I strolled back near that mustard house. As I approached it, my heart sank. There on the hill was a taupe home with dark brown pillars. It’s still lovely, but it’s nothing special. The owners couldn’t handle the differences and conformed to the standard…brown.

I’m here to tell you brown is boring people! We need some mustard in our lives, some differences, some color. This is what my son, Zach, who has Ring 22 syndrome and autism, and others with different abilities face every day. They’re the mustard and burgundy in a sea of brown.

Embrace differences, advocate, accept and enjoy what they bring to the table.

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Editor’s note: The front-page photo for this post is a stock image, not the mustard house referred to in this story.
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