Guess what! We got our house last Thursday. Isn’t that GREAT?
Except that the walls were painted a stark grey that made the place seem as warm and welcoming as Alcatraz. The kind of colour that the landlord clearly must have picked because he wanted to communicate to his tenants “THIS IS NOT YOUR HOME AND YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE.”
INTERNMENT-CAMP GREY IS ALL THE RAGE THESE DAYS, RIGHT?
The message must have been heard loud and clear, because the tenants had made their best efforts to scratch and mark and damage the walls in as many places as possible during their tenancy. One wall was SO marked and dented that all my friends exclaimed on it when they arrived. The greatest part of Saturday was spent spackling, sanding, and washing the walls. Friends who showed up to paint ended up having spackling trowels handed to them, and spent the subsequent hours on their hands and knees, trying to make the walls look more like walls, and less like swiss cheese.
As the day wore on, though, the dingy and unwelcoming house which we had just bought began to take on a new and cheerful feel. Slowly, my personality was spreading through the place, with tendrils reaching from the kitchen, up the stairs, and into the bedrooms.It was transforming from internment camp to… home.
From grey kitchen to sunny kitchen
Up the stairs...
Past the landing...
Then… everyone stopped for the day. People had to go home. Only half the painting was done. I had to teach a puppy class the next morning. Three people pledged to come back after I was done class, and they did. But when they called it a day, there was STILL more to be done. I began to fall apart. It was all so overwhelming. The flooring guys were due to come in that coming week. We had to move the next weekend. There were still some Alcatraz walls and I wanted them gone. The only room I had given permission to ignore was the future baby’s room – decorating a nursery in advance of any kind of pregnancy seems like counting chickens before they hatch. The painting jobs stretched on and on… I would never be done. One day, old and toothless, I would totter into the bedroom and announce
“I finished painting the bathroom today.”
“WHAT?” Perfect Husband would holler, adjusting his hearing aid.
So Monday night after work, Perfect Husband and I went back. I started on touch-ups downstairs while he gathered up drop cloths from the stairs to move into the bathroom. He found green paint spots on the stairs.
“Fuck!” he said, “how did that happen?”
He ripped another drop cloth off of the floor. “FUCK!” And another… “FUCK!”
They were everywhere. Paint splotches on the stairs. In the upstairs hall. The master bedroom. The computer room. Yellow and green.
I once had a dream that shining yellow paint was oozing through the ceiling, landing in splotches at my feet. I knew that if it touched me, I would die. I ran to my parent’s room, seeking safety in my mother’s arms.
“It’s too late,” my father told me, “it touched her. She’s dying.”
Now it seemed like it was back, magically appearing under drop cloths, poisoning my new home. The downstairs floors were all slated to be replaced, but I had preferred to leave the carpet upstairs, so that little sock feet could run down the stairs in future years without slipping. Perfect Husband scrubbed grimly at the stairs while I miserably touched up thin spots on the walls downstairs. The paint didn’t want to come up. I faced the horrifying realization that we might have to redo the upstairs floors, too. Another two thousand dollars. A rush to either pick up new carpet, or a last minute decision to risk small people tumbling down the stairs by extending the laminate flooring up the stairwell. Then we would have to get the guy in to measure it, and convince him to install it before we moved in on Saturday. It was too impossible, too terrible for words.
“We’ll look up a way to get it out,” Perfect Husband assured me.”Now let’s paint a bathroom.”
So we did.
The next night I called my mother AND my decorating-expert friend and moaned to them for a good hour and a half. Finally I had to face the fact that:
a) I wasn’t going to be able to sleep until I KNEW that I could get the paint splotches off the carpet
b) that it was becoming ridiculously late and
c)… I wanted my mommy. If Mum were within 500 kilometres of me I know she would have been there, armed with special paint removing solutions and a scrub brush, got down on her knees, and not risen until my carpet was saved. But she’s SIX THOUSAND KILOMETRES AWAY. I’m married and a homeowner. I’m supposed to be all grown up, but once again I just wanted to run from those paint splotches right into my mother’s protective arms. For the first time it really hit me how badly I miss having my mother at my beck and call.
But my mother couldn’t come save me, so instead, I set out at ten o’clock at night armed with nail polish remover, oxyclean and rubbing alcohol (all scrounged from the bathroom cupboard) to try and remove paint from carpet. Perfect Husband stayed behind to continue packing. Alone in my new home that night, I learned two more things – I may not be my mother, but I could get paint out of a carpet and… hire professionals next time.