Upon my new move to Chicago, things must be done at home to make sure this is a smooth transition. Namely, I have to paint all my walls back to white. Now, I went a little crazy a while back when I was living here in Madison by myself, and was feeling like I had absolutely no friends in the vicinity, and thought that the best way to quell my loneliness was to focus on myself, and establish myself in my house and make it feel more like a home.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all about this whole “nesting” thing, and can’t wait to actually put my real house together, but in my 24 year old laziness, I never really got past the bathroom. I went crazy and painted my bathroom fire engine red, with a gray accent wall, and decorated with a matching shower curtain. I always wanted a red wall, because my parents told me that I should never paint a wall red, so that’s exactly what I did. It was actually kind of cute…if you were still 24 and angsty.
The reason you don’t paint a wall red is because you will inevitably cover it up, and that is a test of your patience, and a time dedication you never knew you were going to make.
Alas, here I am with my “Paint and Primer in One,” trying to cover up the desperate attempts of my lonely 24 year old self. It’s been difficult to cover up. This is all curiously ironic, in a way…
Painting, however, makes me think. It’s quiet, and no one is around me, and I’m left alone with my thoughts (in the bathroom, the best place to do all your thinking), and it gives me a really good time for reflection. What I’ve realized these last two days is, first, I’m a terrible painter. But second, that painting and trying to cover up this incredibly bold color has a certain symmetry with my life right now. There have been some bold decisions I’ve made recently in my life, and they are just out there, and I won’t know exactly how they’re going to turn out. What I do know is, I’m ready to start rebuilding my life in a new and positive way. And although this first coat of paint looks like shit, and seems to not be doing any good to cover up this mess underneath, with time it will go back to it’s blank canvas, and someone new will come in here and have the opportunity to mess it all up again. And I too will go somewhere new, and be able to mess up someone else’s old repainted canvas. And, I think there’s beauty in that.
Coincidentally, I find no greater challenge than in the color white. Blank pieces of paper often challenge me to fill them. White walls often challenge me to bring color and texture into the world. All my white shirts beckon for a food stain of some kind. Please, spill your coffee on me! And how fitting that right now, the challenge is to create white.
I think that’s a good thing. I think painting is therapeutic, and I can understand how so much expression comes from a brush. I can understand how it adds to our lives, and creates backdrops of color to our worlds. But mostly, right now, I appreciate it’s symbolism. I will not ignore the fact that there will be more messes in the future, but it’s refreshing to know that, given a little time and energy, you can always cover up those messes and start over again, clean, fresh, and white.