These might just look like books to you, but they taught me so much about myself.
When I picked up Ultraviolet, I’d never heard of synesthesia. I never though about the colours of words much because I thought everyone saw them. I never questioned why I might consider a certain song purple or green, or why the fire alarm sounded red. There was nothing particularly fascinating about the colours. They were just an everyday part of life that no one talked about- who’d want to talk about something as boring and normal as that?
To start with, I didn’t really identify with Alison. Her colours were different to mine. I thought this was what made her unusual. But then, this quote cropped up:
‘Associating numbers and letters with colour is one of the most common forms of synesthesia.’
Woah. Put the book down. Mind blown. Reevaluate life. One though: ‘YOU MEAN THIS IS A THING?!’.
I’ve got to admit, to start with, I thought my synesthesia was somehow broken, because I wasn’t seeing the colours in the physical space and I didn’t see the triangle in the test. It looked black and white to me, but I knew that 5 was pink and 2 was blue. So… Research time!
Yep, it turned out that seeing the colours in your mind was synesthesia. I found out that synesthetes could be split into two basic categories: associators and projectors. I’m an associator, and someone like Alison, who saw the colours ‘out loud’, would be a projector.
After a while, I realised I didn’t just have the one type. I also saw shapes as colours (i.e. triangles are green and squares are red) and sometimes sounds, songs, and occasionally smells. Some sensations, too. Having pins-and-needles is purple with lots of dots of green, and it sort of looks like when the TV is snowing. Being hungry has always been yellow.
After that, I thought I knew everything about myself. What else could there be to discover?
Fast forward a few months to when I’m nearly fifteen. All my friends were (and still are) boy mad. Personally, I couldn’t see the attraction. Boys were just boys, whether they had their shirts on or not. My best friend suggested I might be a lesbian, but that wasn’t right. Girls were also just girls. I didn’t want a relationship and there was nothing more off-putting than the thought of the ‘s’ word. Admittedly, I was only fourteen (and still am only fifteen), but there are some things you just KNOW.
Then I found out there was a sequel to Ultraviolet, called Quicksilver. I knew it was coming out soon, but I was really pleasantly surprised when I saw it on the shelf in Waterstones. My reaction? Grab it and buy it quick, of course?
It was a bit of a change, reading from Tori’s perspective after Alison’s, but I soon got into it. What made me happy was that Tori (I just can’t think of her as Niki) seemed to have no interest in a relationship. I felt more normal, but I was also certain it wouldn’t last. She’d probably start going out with someone in a few chapters.
And then, this happened:
‘I’m not sexually attracted to anyone. Ever.’ And it seemed to be a normal thing.
Hello, moment of shocked amazement. Talk about deja vu. Ultraviolet, round two. Okay. Book down. Stare at the page. Now keep reading, see what else she says about it.
Oh, it’s got a name. Asexual. And it’s a real orientation.
More shocked silence.
‘HALLELUJAH, I’M NORMAL!’
These books completely changed the way I saw the world- and myself. I’m not Joanna Average. I never was. My name is Emma, and the colours that are so obvious to me may not be obvious to everyone else. I read the rainbow and listen to shades of everything. I don’t want a girlfriend and I don’t want a boyfriend, and you know what? That’s okay. I’m not crazy or a freak. I’m a synesthete and asexual.
To quote Alison, this is my story.
We seriously need to get RJ Anderson to see this.
MAKE RJ ANDERSON FIND THE THING!
Oh gosh, yes! She should know the impact her books have had on this girl’s life!
EVERYONE, NEW GAME! MAKE RJ ANDERSON FIND THE THING!
I FOUND THE THING
I LOVE THE THING
I HAVE SOMETHING (THIS THING) IN MY EYE RIGHT NOW
Wow. This means a lot to hear. More than I can even articulate at this moment. Thank you, OP. Thank you all.