Years ago I sanded an old piece of door trim, chipping away at a jawbreaker, each layer of color slowly surfacing beneath my palm. I wondered in particular about the red, peeking from sheaths of white like a secret. I wondered if I would ever be a woman who would paint my trim red. Some years later I became a woman who painted her walls red. In one room, for awhile. It was a fun few years, and I think about it from time to time.
Now I’ve lived in this house for 17 years and the shadows of previous housemates relentlessly surround me in the edges of painted walls, in the floorboard stains. They moan softly from compressed sofa cushions and chatter beneath the coffee table. I didn’t even choose this coffee table; it was left by a former lover who chose to redecorate his future on departure.
I could ignore these voices or I could just… leave.
There is luxury in moving: the culling and the discarding, the forcing function of a stack of brown boxes, each of which must be trundled out and trundled in *if* you choose to fill them. I could/should engage in the ritualistically (optimistically) named ‘spring cleaning’ but it’s so much easier to simply close the door to Those Rooms and set up shop on the dining room table that has steadfastly hosted the birth and death of a thousand costumes, jigsaws, craft projects, term papers. I predictably and reliably turn to that table because I have, in many ways and for many years, claimed it solely for my purposes. It is bounded space that has simply always been mine. Its memories are only of me.
I choose to stay and make peace with them all, and I’m painting the back bedroom for the fifth time. The first color was chosen by KB, a muddy beige called ‘Peanut’ that went a bit jaundiced around twilight. MB picked a pale but bright blue that P and then MH chose to live with rather than redo. There was a softer blue for CS, accented by a blue-striped light fixture that would look at home in a child’s room. The velvety moss green for AC’s ‘man cave’, chosen by us both, is slowly disappearing under a wash of Vanilla Ice Cream.
I ran out of paint before I finished the second coat, and it may need a third anyway. That color is hard to cover.