The wind blew the door between the garage and the house open tonight. I went to close the door and found the entry hall transformed by the paint that was leaking out of a bag we put in the hall. When we returned from painting tonight we were both so tired we could hardly move. Hence the bag leaking in the hall.
My spouse owned a professional painting company over 20 years ago. We did not have a lot of money so investing in good equipment was difficult but necessary. The man he apprenticed with taught him to clean his brushes and other equipment very carefully. Over the years both of have been very careful and thorough about cleaning our painting supplies.
Over the past weeks I have painted nearly ever day, often more than once. The furniture makeovers in the garage have been long and tedious and because of the cold often not satisfying in the end. Mostly we are satisfied with the transformation of our bargain and thrift store finds but there are some transformations we just have to live with like it or not, they are not going to change.
This weekend I shifted temporarily from furniture to walls. Together, we painted two 10 hour days and I put in another 4 late last night. As we labored toward the evening on Sunday knowing that we had to be out of the space for the paid workers to come back on Monday morning, nerves were frayed and even the dog was unhappy.
Because we were so tired when we were cleaning up and headed back from the house to the condo where we are staying, we did something unlike anything we have ever done. We dumped all of the paint trays, cups and brushes into a black trash and brought it down the mountain with us. We deposited it by the door intending to wash things out before bed, then in the morning as bed time loomed large. The end result of not cleaning the brushes before bed was their depositing paint on the stone floor of the condo we are renting. When I saw it my heart stopped dead still. This is a rental.
I immediately went up stairs, my body creaking with every step, and got a bowl of warm soapy water and shop rags. After descending the 17 stairs to the entry hall I carefully blotted and re-blotted the paint trying to keep from liquifying it and then smearing the paint around to perfectly paint the stone floor. After about 20 minutes, along with some 0000 steel wool I managed to get the floor spotless, paint included.
I followed that 20 minute sojourn by 30 minutes of washing brushes and paint cups and roller pans. The end result of this task was insomnia. After the heart-stopping action of watching paint dry on the tile floor and washing 5 paint brushes, 2 paint cups and two paint pans sleep was a fiction.
The reflections of 3 am build a world that does not exist at 7 am. This morning, as it approaches 5 am, I cannot help but think that paint is like a metaphor the things that happen to us in our lives.
Paint is transformative. Sometimes it is beautiful and sometimes it is not. Often it is not what you expected when you first entered into a relationship with it at the store. Paint can go smoothly or it can be difficult. Coverage can be spotty or good. One color can be covered over by another.
In these last few days before we finally arrive back home after the transformation of losing our house and worldly possessions to the wildfire 19 months ago, I find that I am engaged in a relationship with paint that is unique. As we transform furniture and walls with paint we are painting a picture of us that we recognize. It has been a long time since we have recognized us in our physical environment. Things become familiar and sometimes we like them a lot. We have lived in other people’s space and the physical environment of the places we have lived are of the people who own them, not of us.
Within a week we should be in our own space. We are different than we were when last we were in our own space. We yearn for our familiar but different space that is emerging as this new house of ours is being born. We are working to make things recognizable by us and about us. Paint is transforming our furniture and out walls. Both they and we have been transformed. Our life together will be of transformation.