Recently, I decided to paint the upstairs hallway.
Wait a minute. That’s not exactly right. It’s more accurate to say that “Recently, I re-decided to paint the upstairs hallway.” Let me back up.
Last March (or maybe early April) my husband and I decided to buy paint to paint the upstairs hallway. We figured we’d be housebound for a while and would be in need of a project. Why not paint? So, we carefully considered our color options, then braved the growing lines at the hardware store to buy the paint, brushes and other accoutrements. Apparently, all that activity wore us out, because all those items sat patiently in the mud room until about a week ago.
Yup. You did the math right. It’s been about a year.
For some reason, over our Winter Break in February, I decided to finally start this long conceived of paint job.
When I got started, I figured I had to clean first, so I attacked the spider web laden corners. Then, I wiped down the walls, one by one. Finally, I started working on the trim–the window seat, the windows, the baseboards and the doors. The doors! This hall has 5 doors. How had I not realized that before? I mean, talk about trim! Working my way around the hallway, I wiped down the bathroom door. I wiped down my youngest daughter’s door. I wiped down the closet door. Then I stopped at my oldest daughter’s room and her door.
Oh, I thought. How did I not think about this? How can I possibly paint over the Dr. Who door?
My paint job suddenly got a lot more complicated.
My daughter is almost 26 now and lives way too far away in Philadelphia. Due to Covid, we’ve seen her once in the past 14 months. She probably painted this door over a decade ago, in the midst of Dr. Who fandom, but when I imagined painting over it now, I froze. Tears pricked. My throat thickened painfully. I was startled by the intensity of my reaction. Come on, Molly. It’s just a door! But I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t help feeling that painting it would be like erasing a memory. Or a little bit of her childhood. I stood there a long while, thinking, remembering. Missing her now. Missing her then. Oh. I don’t think I can do this. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure I was thinking just about the paint job at that point.
“I don’t think I can paint Addie’s door,” I told my husband a little bit later. My voice caught. “It makes me almost cry just to think about it.” I swallowed hard.
“So, don’t,” he said, simply. Gently. “Wait until you’re ready. You can always do it later.”
Later that day, I started to paint, deciding that I wouldn’t decide about the door until I had to. Over the next day or two, I painted the ceiling. I painted the walls. I painted the second coat on the walls. Then I started on the trim. It was s-l-o-w going. Did I mention there are 5 doors!? And a window seat? And baseboards. Let’s just say that the end of vacation arrived before I finished, and before I had to make a decision.
So, to update, the paint has moved from exile in the mudroom, but is now upstairs in a tarp-draped hallway that is about half done. Maybe two-thirds, if I’m being optimistic. And I’m back at school with the ever-insane month of March ahead of me. Lots to do and very little spare time for projects.
I still haven’t decided if I’m painting over the Dr. Who door or not.
But probably not.
I don’t think I’m ready quite yet.