Sunday, March 12, 2023

Painting the closet

seems like it would be a fairly easy goal, 

a small project to check off a to-do list. I mean, I've painted entire rooms, entire houses, so what's the big deal with a closet is what I was thinking, when I set this goal, last year. 

I can get it done over a weekend, I said to myself, 

fifteen weekends ago. This is a small closet in my husband's office. But first it was our daughter's bedroom, Year One of the Pandemic, when she bounced home and nested here, and it was such a terrifying, anxious time, but also, beautiful in a strange way. The closet 

was a magnet for things, a catch-all, and not just stuff belonging to our daughter. Boxes of papers. Photo albums. Framed pictures that don't seem to fit anywhere on the walls. Musical instruments from the time when the kids played viola in their school orchestras. 

It took me a good four or five weekends to think about emptying it, to do the actual emptying, to find places for all of these things. One long weekend of looking at the violas (For the record, we have two kids and four violas), of calling the kids to see if they still wanted them.  

No. I don't know. Maybe, they said. 

One weekend I dug out an old jacket of my daughter's. It fits me perfectly. Not my style at all—much more fashionable—but I wear it out to dinner one night and feel like I am a different person.  

Maybe the kind of person who can paint a damn closet in a weekend.

But first I have to scrape off the peeling paint. The house we live in is nearly one hundred years old. There are so many many layers of paint. And I quickly discover, as I begin scraping, a layer or two of wallpaper buried in there too. I manage to do one half of one wall before quitting. A few weekends later, I try again. 

Uncover another layer, what looks like hand painted flowers, so surprising me mid-scrape, that I have to quit again for three weekends, four. 

When did I become this person, 

who can't finish an easy task, who scrapes into the past, and gets stuck there, gazing longingly at the pretty pictures on the wall? I don't know, but weekend fifteen, sixteen, whatever this weekend is, I am digging in deep, back to my old self, forward to a new self,

settling somewhere in the present, 

a present where I don’t imagine painting the closet, but do it.