I have been so busy unpacking my life, it is almost a metaphor.* You have dusty old boxes you have been carting around for years that sentimentality prevents you from throwing out, and yet, the emotional scars they hold keep you from opening them up. Then there are the boxes with carefully wrapped and painstakingly placed treasures. You lovingly tucked them in and worried about their safe arrival. Those were the first boxes you packed. They have color-coded labels and warnings to ‘Handle With Care’. You expected to take time with every one of you millions of items. However, by the time you reach the end of your tether/patience/time-to-move you are shoving possessions in willy-nilly and throwing stuff away just so you won’t have to pack one more damned thing. Case in point, my computer tower didn’t fit into the boxes I had left, so I taped the giant rip which formed when I crammed it into one anyway. I strongly suspect my lack of finesse may be why it refuses to turn on at the new house. It holds a grudge.
After struggling so long to find a place to live, it was almost a relief to move. Almost. I dragged a hundred boxes into a house with room enough for maybe twenty and a few plants. I was careful to instruct the movers to put the furniture in first, otherwise we’d never have made it. As it turned out, the house wasn’t big enough for everything. There are two giant bookshelves and a piano sitting in the garage as proof. It is no doubt very odd for the neighbors when my son goes to practice. I plan on telling them he’s starting a garage band, if anyone asks.
One thing I really wanted to do when I finally got my home, was to unearth my china. It has been ten years since I saw it. I only got to use it once during my marriage. It was always kept ‘safe’ for a special occasion. After my husband died, it became a symbol of all the times we would never get to use them again. After the move, though, I was itching to get at the Blue Willow because I had the perfect place to store it—a built-in china cabinet tucked in my new home. Through the chaos of packing and recovering from surgery, I focused on uncrating my tea service and putting the cups and saucers in a perfect arrangement around the pot—like a herd of blue-speckled chicks around a fat hen. It became a symbol of hope. Or perhaps I should say ‘cymbal’ the way it crashed all around me those first few weeks.
My first act after the movers left was to carefully unbox my brand-new teapot and reach for the door to my shiny white cupboard…only to discover that the paint crew had managed to shellac the door closed. After I yanked and tugged on my glassed-in door to no avail, I allowed myself a massive hissy fit of frustration. I called the painter, who promised to come out and fix it. He never did. I ended up hiring someone else just to come out and sand down three doors that kept sticking too badly to tolerate.
The noise and dust storm that followed coated the walls and floors of the house which had just been painted. I gritted my teeth—not just because of the dust—and stalked to the paint store to repaint the sections exposed by the overzealous use of a circular sander. I knew the name of my paint and asked for “Snowfall White”. Or, I thought I knew my paint color. Because, as it turns out, there are many, many shades of white.** Specifically, there was more than one shade of Snowfall White. I didn’t realize this until after I had re-painted every damned surface into the wee hours of the morning.
I was cross-eyed with exhaustion when it dawned on me that the paint that had dried hadn’t turned into the color that was on the walls and trim in the living room. In fact, it was a hideous shade I would have called ‘autopsy white’ because it was actually a corpse grey. There was some moderate swearing—I may have cursed the Fickle Sherwin-Williams Gods who stole a name from another company. The next day, I trudged back to the store where I’d picked up the outrageously expensive can in the first place. I begged, I cried. I may have troweled it on a bit thick—I think the man gave me the replacement paint so I would leave. I tromped home and looked at the room decided which things absolutely had to be changed and which ones I could live with. (Who cares what color the inside closet door is anyway?) After applying some paint—a touch here, a dash there—I had a sense of foreboding. “Hmm, this seems really light.” I waited for a small area to dry only to discover it was in fact, a horse of a different color. Alternately hyperventilating and swearing, I ended up repainting the entire china cabinet the third shade of Snowfall White. What I think happened is, the original, benighted painters somehow mixed the paint wrong in the first place. I have no idea what color it is—probably something called You-Will-Never-Match-This-Again-In-A-Million-Years White. But I have decided I can live with the piebald walls…as long as I never look too closely and pretend any shadows are a trick of the light.
So that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few weeks. Struggling with unpacking boxes, some which haven’t been touched in a decade.*** And when I am not over-emoting about the zillions of pictures I find, I am trying to white wash my world so that I have a blank canvas to work with. But an artist has to admit that sometime, the paint of a previous work is going to bleed through.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
* Except metaphors don’t usually make you sneeze this much.
**Even more than 50 shades of gray…and a lot more tasteful too.
*** It is like maneuvering an emotional mine field; every item revealed is a bomb waiting to go off. I’m crying over tchotchkes, dammit.