this weekend, after a week of workmen tromping through the house, repairing drywall and measuring for new carpet, freaking out the dog.
She's not too thrilled about the painting either. So much disruption, moving around the furniture, the loud vacuum. Also, she's wary of the stepladder. I climb it with my paint brush, painting the same walls I painted twelve years ago when we first moved into this house. You really get to know a house, make it your own, when you paint it,
that close examination of the baseboards, the crawling around on the floors and reaching toward the ceilings. The kids were in school back then, jumping into the middle of a school year in a town where there aren't many new kids.
I'm listening to podcasts while I paint. Fresh Air interviews. A man who wrote a book about climate change and how our window to save the planet is closing. The emotional lives of primates, how chimpanzees have masculine societies and bonobos are led by females. We don't know what to make of that, says the interviewee, so scientists tend to focus more on chimpanzees.
There's a heap of dust behind our bed when my husband and I move it away from the wall. And ha! Now I know where all of my missing bookmarks have fallen, night after night, reading in bed. Our daughter's room has three layers of paint. The purple color I originally painted it--it was the first room I worked on-- trying to make her feel at home in our new home. A sunny day in October, her first day of school, I walked to pick her up (Walked!!! I had been so tired of the forty-minute car drives) She refused to talk to me about her day. Crawled into her bed and sobbed and what do you do to fix a pain like that, except to say,
You made it through.
A few years later she asked me to paint her room a cheery blue. And when she went off to college, I turned it into my office, painted the walls what is called Sand 3, the same color I used in the house we lived in before this one. Like the iris bulbs from the previous garden replanted here, the lovely sand paint will move with us again.
This time I need my reading glasses to do the painstaking work around the trim. I listen to an interview about the Spanish American War. Paint the walls marred by the built-in bookcase, and did you know our government tricked the Philippines into thinking we would help them defeat the Spanish? More Filipinos died in that war than in the American Civil War.
The most tedious part of painting is the prep-work, the removal of light switch plates, the patching of nail holes left behind after taking down all of the pictures.
Only we know what hung on these walls, the graduation photos and family trips, a visit to the college my husband and I both graduated from, that time we took the kids to visit the place, the four of us smiling against a backdrop of ivy covered bricks, the children so young then. It was right before we uprooted them to move here, I think.
A podcast about the Russian hacking of our election. A discussion about what makes kids resilient. We'll be back at the same college in a few week to see our daughter graduate, the four of us together again.
A quick trip before moving on to the next house with new walls to paint.