My daughter and I paint my bedroom a light blue that reminds me of a bedroom I painted the summer I was 21 and living in an old house in Brattleboro. Those hot months, I was waitressing at the Skyline Restaurant, making great tips. On my days off, a friend and I painted much of that house and drank gin and tonics. While my afternoons of G&Ts have long passed, painting hasn’t.
I pour the paint into the pan; my daughter gently sets her cats outside the door and then takes the roller from my hand. I got it, she says. I stand back, offering my pro tips about using enough paint, and she repeats again, gently, I got it.
Truth is, she does.
I pick up the paintbrush and continue cutting in, keeping ahead of her in some kind of way. After a while, she hands me back the roller and heads out to her cats who are stretching their paws under the door.
Listening to the redwing blackbirds through the open window, I wonder about the paint and wallpaper layers in this 100-year-old house. Who’s been here, over these years? Us, now.
“Finding A Long Gray Hair” by Jane Kenyon
I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs.