Once upon a time, I lived in a very normal home. The rugs needed to be vacuumed and the dishes had to be washed. Life was somewhat shabby and perhaps a little dull. I preferred to think of it as "shabby chic." And then one day, I tugged on some loose wallpaper.
For much of December, I've been peeling wallpaper from the dining room walls. It is a slow process. The wallpaper needs to be soaked with water to soften the paste, gently scraped with a putty knife, the walls washed and patched. The house was built in the late 30s and appears to have all of the wallpaper and paint that accumulated over the intervening years. The picture is one of the layers of wallpaper. I wish I knew more about the people who lived here. What did they like to do? What did they think about the house? Were they happy?
I enjoy this place, and I feel more confident as I make it mine. An astute person pointed out that redecorating a house after a big life event is an apt metaphor for remaking one's life. I hadn't thought about it that deeply. I just went with my instincts and dug in. I think they were right. The organic process and the adventures unfold along the way to completion. I wish it were just a little more orderly or even predictable. I'm trying to laugh at the surprises.
This evening, a friend offered to help remove a fixture that I couldn't unscrew from
the wall. While I was fetching a screw driver from the kitchen, I heard laughing. Apparently, he just used his hands. Most of the wall also came off with the fixture. He looked really proud of himself although he tried to look sheepish for the photograph. I've heard that cats are big fans of visible damage. I think the same may apply to men. Being both male and kitten, Oscar was awestruck. Norah had the good sense to hide.
The good news is that he discovered a nook between the kitchen and the living room that is the size of a closet. Perfect, perhaps, for a built-in bookcase. When I think of built-in bookcases, I get weak in the knees and swoon. Over the past year, I've become acquainted with tilers, plumbers, electricians, handy women and dry wall installers. Why not meet a good carpenter for bookcase building?
Oh yes, I do look forward to a time when I have an orderly and boring home. I will knit and read and surf the internet. The colors and fabrics and style of my house will become outdated. I will be unfazed. I will garden and go on vacation and host parties. I will understand that inner peace does not come from redecorating however wonderful the metaphor might be.