The salesgirl, all of eighteen years old, rushed over to me after I started taking pictures of the paint samples.
“You really can’t judge a paint sample with a cell phone picture.”
I was feeling like she banned me from the paint aisle with her correction. I put down the paint sample slowly, and made my way to the shiny counter. Maybe I could redeem myself by asking some questions. Eighteen smiled in my direction and pulled a paint can opener out of her orange apron before she tended to a gallon can. Eighteen’s smile was genuine, especially after I shyly alerted her about my inexperience with house painting. I continued to explain. Uh oh, I said too much. Eighteen was no longer amused. Her mouth twisted up to the left side of her brow. According to Eighteen the color samples I fished out of my purse were too close on the color wheel. I wasn’t winning her favor by presenting my bank card for the paint colors she had vetoed. Oh- and then there was the amount I needed her to mix. Did I need 1, 2, or 3 gallons? Did I need paint and primer or just paint? Did the paint samples match the interior of my home? I didn’t know the answers to any of those questions. Now Eighteen traded her genuine smile for a plastic version. I wanted a gallon each of 3 different colors, but instead Eighteen mixed me three samples. She told me to return after I had answers to some of her questions. I didn’t argue with Eighteen. I paid for my samples and headed home.
I know you may be shocked by my next statement: I have never painted the interior of my home before. I have, however, had 6 different residences the last 7 years. Each time the white walls made me feel like I was living in a hospital.The white walls changed even when I wasn’t trying too hard to notice them. Sometimes, I wish I had funny stories about how they got stained. You know, the kind of scenarios that end up in movies like American Pie. (I am showing my age with this reference :) That one time, I got wasted and then the funniest thing happened! Now look at this crazy mark on the wall…I don’t have stories like that. Instead, listlessness caused the type of static oil stain that collects on the walls behind beds without headboards. How could I paint when Anna hadn’t arrived, adjusted, started…She hadn’t figured out how to balance her check book or negotiate the repayment of student loans. She hadn’t figured out how to wake up without disgust on the mornings that start a hard day’s work. She would rather be asleep in an alcoholic cloud. How could a person like that roll out fresh coats of paint?
Some mornings, I still wake up with disgust. My bank account is overdrawn every three weeks. I am beaming, however, in a way that has evaded me for the past seven years. I feel like a nerd, because I am super excited with the three accent walls I painted in my place! I refuse to move again because I no longer feel the need to start over. I have been sober for one month. I’m beaming!