“What do you want to do today?” It was already past noon.
We had started our day – a little later than usual, thanks to the guy who got up at dawn to feed the dogs so that we could stay in bed on this last day of Spring Break – with a batch of pancakes. No syrup. Torn in half and eaten off the plate, careful not to let the burst of blueberry burn the inside of our mouths. All but one of the lot gone before the question awoke:
“What do you want to do today?”
“Yeah, but I can’t decide which color on which wall.”
She pointed to the red wall, the first one I painted when we first moved in. It was called Burnt Cinnamon, a woodsy contrast to the greens through the window outside.
“Teal,” she said Then she pointed to the bedroom wall. “Grey.”
I pointed, too, “Or, grey. Teal.”
Before we were done, we had involved one more wall, one more shade of grey, and the Sherwin Williams app in making our decision. It was closer to two-thirty by then.
“Teal. Grey. And the trim needs to get done first. Sanded and stained.” I could tell this project was already getting out of hand. Her eyes shared her state of overwhelm. So I got back to the original question, “What do you want to do today?”
“Get rid of this red,” she said. “Do you want that last pancake?”
“Then let’s just get rid of the red, and I already ate half of it. The other half is yours.”
We stretched three boards from the stairs to the built-out downstairs wall so I could reach the two-story, too-tall corner from the top step of the ladder set atop this sketchy scaffolding. I trimmed in the edges and had time to sand and stain the trim while she brushed and rollered.
Now, the last light of the day is gone, we’ve gone to grab a bite to eat, and upon returning, I stand in the middle of this space. Not all of the red is gone; some will be replaced with grey tomorrow. My living room is a mess, all the furniture is pulled away from the walls, and the fumes are messing with my head. I know this will not all be set to rights before school starts again next week. But I am amazed at how much this takes me back to the days after we first moved in. When I was sure of who I was and what I wanted – at least in a paint color.
And today I feel it, too. I am the one who makes pancakes – and saves her the last half of the last one – and who stands on the top step of a ladder on top of a board across the stairs to get rid of the red. At least for today, that’s what I want to do.