Long-Distance Renovations


We're painting.  It's the first tangible act, besides moving our furniture and books and belongings into the space, of putting our stamp on Easter House.  In keeping with this whole venture, it's a leap of faith on my part.  I didn't choose the colors.  I'm letting my husband do it, with help from my sister and brother-in-law down the road.

"Get some paint chips and consult with them and pick something neutral," I told Mark.  "They're artists, they work with color all the time.  You'll find something nice, I'm sure."

Mark wasn't so sure.  "But what if you don't like it?" he said.

"I will, I trust you," I said.

The living room, B.H.E. (Before Hilan Era).  

The living room, B.H.E. (Before Hilan Era).

We were deliberating this just a week or two before we were to see each other for the first time since the move.  We were meeting up in Wisconsin, for a weekend celebration of Mark's sister's 40th wedding anniversary.

He brought along, in his bag of clothes, a two-inch thick book of paint chip strips, all in shades of white, off white and beige.

I screwed up my face, my lips pursing out in a sour-puss fish lips way.  It was not a very supportive posture.

"Why'd you bring this?"  I said.

"So you could help choose a paint color!  I thought you said you wanted to see some samples!"

The living room's blue ceiling.  My sister suggested this.  "Iris," by Sherwin Williams.  

The living room's blue ceiling.  My sister suggested this.  "Iris," by Sherwin Williams.

He was right, I had said that.  "I wanted to see whatever you guys decided on!" I cried.  "I thought you did this already."

"No, we're waiting for your input."

I was quiet.  What part of "I trust you" does he not understand? 

I forced myself to talk in a low, calm tone.  Inside my head, a little version of me was jumping up and down and screaming.

"I can't pick a color long distance, honey.  I need to be in the room.  I need to hold up the samples against the woodwork or against the rug, to see if they go together."

"Well, you've got pictures of the rooms and the woodwork in your cell phone, don't you?  Just use that as a reference."

The dining room, B.H.E.  

The dining room, B.H.E.

Mini-me was running back and forth across my brain stem, throwing herself in dramatic disbelief against the inside of my skull.  This can't be that hard to understand! 

Gentle, now.  "No, honey.  No.  I need to be in the room, because the light in each room matters. And a cell phone doesn't faithfully replicate colors.  It won't be right."

I said it again.  "You should do it.  I trust you."

I get how hard that can be, believing in that trust.  What if I get it wrong? can be a powerful disincentive to striking out on one's own, no matter how loud the Munchkins are cheering and waving as you begin your journey to Oz.  I worry that I'm going to get this whole "leap, and the net will appear" gamble wrong.  A fearful voice whispers, "You will go bankrupt.  You'll have to sell the place.  You'll have to move in with your parents.  People will laugh.  They'll say, 'Told you so!' They'll say, 'Who did you think you were, doing such a bone-headed thing?'"

Yeah, well, all that might happen.  And just the opposite could happen, too.  We could make this house sing.  We could make a great life here for ourselves, full of love and friends, a safe harbor for each other, a welcoming place for others, a strong asset that grows emotionally, financially, spiritually, every which way, every day.

Mark could choose the right paint, all by himself, without me seeing it, and I could love it.

A week later, Mark and my sister chose the paint colors: The painters came and got to work, steaming off wall paper and prepping the living room, dining room and parlor for their new faces.   Early reports from Mark and my sister are that it's looking great, that the living room -- the first to be finished -- looks brighter and more airy and open, freed from its pinkish brown cast.

I visit on Wednesday and will see for myself.  I believe it's going to be just fine.

The dining room, work in progress.  All that wallpaper, steamed off....whew.  

The dining room, work in progress.  All that wallpaper, steamed off....whew.