Painting in the Temporary

I’ve been rearranging my bedroom for the past few weeks. Yes, it takes me a long time. Partly because I’ve only devoted small chunks of time to pondering the feng shui of this girlhood bedroom of mine, and partly because something is in the way.

I think I need to paint my bedroom.

This is not a huge development for most of you. But look at it this way:

1. I haven’t changed the color of my room since high school.

2. I don’t like doing big projects and I especially don’t like doing them alone.

3. Alone, you say? What about your sister?

4. Oh, right, she’s moved out and designing her own a-little-bit-too-big-for-one-person bedroom.

So that’s the crux of it. I sit on my bed and look around. Maybe the bookshelves should go here? Maybe I need more bookshelves (well, that’s a definite)? Maybe I should move my pictures to the other wall? Maybe I’m the most indecisive domestic there is? And all of this wondering is stuck because I feel like I need to paint over the white compound marks her posters so cunningly covered, but I don’t have the heart to do it all alone.

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When we were little girls – maybe nine and ten – we painted our room “Frosted Cranberry.” We huddled our beds in the middle, draped old sheets over everything, and Mom taught us how to roll the thick dark paint on the walls. I was terrible at edging so Mom did that, carefully maneuvering around the moulding with the same attention to detail she brings to weeding the garden.

That is the color I think of when I remember being a little girl.

The deep cranberry of Laura Ingalls Wilder Club, writing inventive and terrible short stories about murders in a small town, trying to start a business – any business – because entrepreneurialship is in my blood, and, probably the best, the color of two twin beds sitting parallel with a little rug in between.

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If “Frosted Cranberry” is the color of my childhood, and “Waterfall” is the color of my teenage hood, what should be the color of my young adulthood?

I think there is a tiny part of me that is afraid to commit to this place in the form of new paint.

How long will I call this room mine?

How long will I actually spend in this little white house?

And how many hours do I want to devote to a project that will take me far too long for what it is?

But I am reminded that temporary things deserve as much beauty and commitment as non-temporary things. I get stuck when I think that way; if I’m always waiting for certainty, I’ll never do anything. Before I know it, I’ll be living in a room with worn-through carpet and peeling-off paint.

Why live in a room whose walls are covered in compound and the smoke of beautiful candles burned years ago? Does it matter if I’m here only one more year?

Wouldn’t I rather be surrounded by beauty?

I know that I could elicit help from a brother or a friend. Maybe I will. My sister would probably even come home for the weekend and slap some paint on these walls.

But I’m the only one choosing the paint.

2 Replies to “Painting in the Temporary”

  1. When I was at Ropes St, I painted my room, because it was something I had never done before, and I wanted to. I chose a pale yellow for three walls, and a bright, deep blue for the sunshined wall. That third wall looked like a watery portal to another world, and I LOVED it. Then, six months later, I moved out, and it was all painted over. I don’t regret painting it one little bit.

    What if you just went to the paint store and looked at all the colours? Maybe one will put up and wave its hand, or whisper your name, or trip at your feet.

    1. That sounds cozy. And I’m glad you don’t regret the work! I wandered into a paint shop the other day, but was promptly informed that they were closing in two minutes.

      I’m sure I’ll give it another shot soon.

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