It has been nearly five years since my husband and I turned the key to our new house, and yet, in that time, we are only just painting the fourth room. At this rate, we just might get done by the time we retire.
Truth is, I didn’t want to paint the walls when we first moved in. I couldn’t. My brain was still a mess the day we signed the papers. Anxious. Confused. Overwhelmed. The last thing I wanted to do was paint.
So, there our house sat for nearly five years. Bland, lifeless walls. Dull. Boring. Making me feel like a renter in my own house.
Over the weekend, as I picked up the paintbrush, ready to cover the cream-colored, builders-grade walls of the guest room, I felt a surge of excitement. Another room was about to be done.
I crossed the room, noticed dings and dents caused by toys of little ones, and suitcases by late-night visitors. I thought of the people who had been in this room, and the fun we had had together. With one flick of the brush, I erased it all, every last memory removed.
The closet held other memories, sparkles from a Christmas tree, and ornaments now gone. Scratches from tables and chairs we had moved out for guests. With one swift stroke, I removed those memories as well.
A mark on the door. A bump on the trim. Those would have to stay. For now.
Stroke after stroke. Brush beyond brush. The new arrives, the old is taken away.
I was anxious to finish this room, ready to move on to another. To paint walls and make them full of life. Make them ours. Turn them into home.
A home that all this time I had thought of as a house. A house that had seen the world pass through.
It watched newborn babies being rocked and held, smiled as children crawled across floors. It laughed with little ones that smeared greasy fingertips across windows as they looked in wonder at birds outside.
This house had laughed when we laughed, cried when we cried. It celebrated one life, and mourned the loss of another.
It watched my husband and I dance across the kitchen floor, twirl with children, play games with friends and family. It saw us bake, cook, and can, creating more messes than I care to tell.
This house had observed holidays, celebrations, birthdays. This house, without my knowing, had become a home.
I finished the last stroke, turning beige to silver-gray, amazed and wowed by the transformation.
I guess it wasn’t the color that turned my house into a home. I guess it had been a home all along. The click of a key, the turn of a knob.