Painting and the Meaning of Life
I painted my kitchen the other day. Not the most exciting start to a blog post but stay with me. I promise there will be a deeper, more meaningful conclusion and that “painting my kitchen” is a euphemism for “I found the meaning of life”. Or something like that.
My husband and I painted our house all the time before we had kids. Our living room went through a series of badly chosen colors like Blue Jean and Burnt Orange. Our kitchen was original to the 50s and we painted the cabinets a shocking Grass Green that went stunningly with the manure-brown tiled countertop. We did these little home improvement projects ourselves and with plenty of beer. Beer and painting go together like chips and salsa, as long as you don’t care if the project ever gets finished (the beer, on the other hand, always got finished). I got close most of the time. Sometimes the baseboards went without paint or were lazily painted the same color as the walls. In the case of my bathroom, it stayed half Lilac and half Peach for years.
At one point in 2006, we decided that we were too grown up to have a half/badly painted house. We just had our kitchen remodeled and thought it would be a good idea to start with a fresh slate so we hired someone to paint every room a reasonable shade of Bone.
Then we procreated and it didn’t really matter what color the walls were because we figured they were going to be covered in mashed peas and crayon for a few years anyway. Grown up furniture was soon out of the picture when our 14 month old son busted his head open on our coffee table and needed stitches. The next day, he fell and got a massive black eye from hitting the flagstone hearth around the fireplace, which we then covered with black foam pipe cover and duct tape.
I’ve been okay with this until recently. I caught a bad cold and then the flu and spent the better part of the last month in a semi-conscious state on the couch, staring at the Bone walls and black duct-taped foam around the fireplace. As I rested my feet on the cushioned toy box/coffee table, I realized that we didn’t have to live like this. Our kids aren’t wild poop-throwing monkeys and a little paint and artwork isn’t out of the question.
So, I made a list of small home improvement projects that wouldn’t cost a lot of money. Almost immediately, Naysayer Voice started giving her two cents like Do you really think you’ll finish all this? You hate painting to begin with and this time you’ll be doing it without beer. Is that even possible? Do you remember when you painted the bathroom?
You: This beer would sure taste better without all these paint fumes. I’ll just take a break and go outside for awhile.
Husband: Hey, aren’t you painting the bathroom?
You: Yup, right after I finish this beer.
Naysayer Voice had reason to believe I wouldn’t finish my list. A few months ago I decided to paint our kitchen. I found a picture in a magazine of a kitchen similar to ours painted a lovely color called Sage. Unfortunately, I hated the color as soon as I saw it on the wall. It turns out that Sage is barely a shade greener than Bone so I painted half the kitchen and abandoned the project. Hilariously, hardly anyone noticed that only half the kitchen was painted, which only encouraged my procrastination.
So when Naysayer Voice piped in on my new list of projects, part of me felt defeated. True, I could probably flip back in the notebook I wrote my list on and see a similar list from 2005 with half an item checked off but I wasn’t going to let the voice deter me.
I resolved to finish painting the kitchen Sage just so that I could say I finished it but every time I thought about that color, it depressed me. Then, I had an Oprah-like aha moment. Paint it a different color.
I walked into Home Depot brimming with confidence that I would pick a color I adore. I settled on a lovely shade of beige and then started thinking it sounded a little too close to Sage. Beige/Sage. I endured the nickname of “barren” as a kid because it rhymes with Karen. I didn’t have kids until I was 38. Coincidence? I remember looking it up in the dictionary and thinking those rotten kids got it right. Unproductive, desolate, bleak. That about summed up my life. It wasn’t until years later that it occurred to me that maybe they meant “baron”. Most likely, they were hardly literate and just got lucky picking a real word at all. It just as easily could’ve been Farren Karen! or Garren Karen!
Anywho, my concern over picking a shade of beige dissolved as soon as I saw the name: Fawn. Rhymes with dawn and lawn. Two beautiful things I love.
Long story short, I painted my kitchen completely from top to bottom without pause. It turns out that painting without beer is much easier, faster and less messy. Who would’ve thunk it? The surprising part to me is that I actually enjoyed it. I’m not the procrastinator I used to be because I’m not dependent on instant gratification. I owe that gem to sobriety. I almost let old, self-defeating behavior and thought patterns color my new world. But I’m not the same person I was and it’s not only because I’m sober. It’s because I’ve worked to change everything that no longer serves me (including Bone and Sage). It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I’m capable of starting and finishing a project, which is a good thing because my list is long. I’ll probably need help with the rest of it. Yes, Husband, I’m talking to you.