My 11 year-old niece walked into my home, scanned the rooms twice, and proclaimed everything looked different. My sister in-law laughed and said, “Honey, you have to expect that when you come to Auntie’s house. She likes change.”
I rearranged the furniture since they were here last.
Today my dad came over unexpectedly and said, “Whoa! What happened?”
The next time people come over, they may find I have changed things yet again. Meaning, I regret my decision to paint my walls a warm cream.
For me, color is easy. It sneaks in like the roommate who doesn’t have a job, or prospects, or a place to stay. You wake up one day and find them sitting at your table, shaking an empty box of cereal and reading your paper. What was supposed to be a weekend is suddenly three months and there you are, wondering when that happened. In my case, the roommate goes by the name Most Shades of Blue.
Last year I debated between light and dark. I couldn’t decide between the bright, clear taste of white or the warm spice of a deeply flavored brown. I settled on plain vanilla. I loved it until I didn’t, which is the way it goes when you play it safe.
This year I will help my friend clear out forty years of residency from her childhood home. Books, furniture, paperwork, clothing, and all the other incidentals of life you leave behind in death. As she is in and out hosting memorials for out of country family and spreading ashes, I am in charge of picking up mail and feeding her father’s hummingbirds. I walk into that house, dark and quiet, and nearly suffocate from the weight of earthly possessions. My footfalls bounce off the sofa that wasn’t quite right, ricochet around the room no one used, flutter past the pages of books half read, and land at my feet like gasping fishes.
Sometimes I come home from that house and stare at the white of my board and batten. I breathe deeply, almost desperately. What I used to hate about white–that simple, unapologetic openness–is what I now crave.