One Gallon of Paint: What It Creates

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.

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By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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