06 July 2010

paint it white

My grandmother has been ill, and on Saturday, I received a call that she had taken a turn for the worse. This is not a post about that. This is a post about painting a dresser, which took place at the same time.

On a almost-sunny and slightly sad Saturday afternoon, I had a beach BBQ to attend at 5:30. It was 3:17.  I also had a can of primer, a can of a delicious Martha Stewart paint called Heavy Cream, a very blah dresser and bookshelf, and hands seemed too idle. So I let them move, taking all of my clothes out of the dresser and all the books off our shelf, giving our bedroom a delightfully and completely distructed look. I don't necessarily recommend doing something like this the night before you and your boy throw a 4th of July get-together, and I especially don't recommend doing it when you have a BBQ to be at in less than 2 hours. But grief makes people do interesting things, so I went with it. Luckily the boy was, as always, cool and calm in all situations, even ones where I take apart our house.

About 15 minutes into the project, when my clothes were halfway out and I was getting sheets to put on the ground, I knew this was a bad idea. I had absolutely no time to get this done. I kept going. I didn't say this was a particularly intelligent course of action; I just said I did it.

I put down the sheets, swept in corners that hadn't been swept since I moved in, and with ruthless efficiency began to prime the dark brown pieces. My sister, Megs, and I had gotten the primer when she last visited Seattle, and it was super duper grippy, perfect for the slightly slick plywood construction. I was off, painting my heart out as quickly as humanly possible. There was no room in my head for anything except Glidden Gripper and rollers and edging, and maybe - perhaps - that was the point.

I did not make my ridiculous time schedule, leaving my house a bit closer to 6 than I would have liked. I had a bit too much primer on me - globs on my hands and in my hair - and a bit too little on some patches of the furniture, but there I was. I wrapped up and with no time to think, left for the beach. (I decided to wear a sweater to said beach, simply because I was beyond freezing last time I was there. Only this time it was really nice and I was sweating buckets. Fucking grief; clouds a girl's head right up).

I was out, enjoying a birthday BBQ when my mom called. Gram had passed.

Tears. Shit-ton of the tears.

Thank God the dressers still needed another coat. They were there when I got home, practically begging me to go at it. I held off, as I had drank a couple of beers (I hear beers and paintbrushes are not a good combination), and I was painting in the same room we were sleeping (I hear VOC fumes and lungs are also not a good combination). I successfully did not paint until 10AM the next morning, at which point I attacked.

My god, Heavy Cream is gorgeous. Thank goodness.

Isn't it lovely, my friends? It looks peaceful. It looks light and soft. There's nothing like death to make one feel helpless and there is nothing like a can of paint to make one feel somewhat... well, better? More in control perhaps? Thankfully distracted? I can't name what exactly it gave me, but it did stop the tears for a bit. Creating something felt good. Creating something felt needed.

At any rate, whatever I am trying to say, I finished the dresser & shelf. They even were almost dry by the time my tears had stopped and our party was about to begin. I felt better once they were done, and I was surrounded by friends who were ooohhh-ing and ahhh-ing over them and asking very kindly how I was doing as we ate brownies, drank gin and tonics, and watch fireworks from the roof.

In the end, I realized that sometimes life hands me things I don't know quite what to do with. In those moments - in this moment - I did the only thing sounded right, to paint a dresser, and I still cannot explain why I needed to. But my heart feels better, my bedroom feels warmer, and somehow that seems perfect answer. And, well, that's all I got.


  1. Anonymous06 July, 2010

    I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother, and so pleased you found a productive way to work through your emotions - dresser looks great!

  2. I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother, but it's good that you were able to do something constructive to work through your grief. And it looks fantastic :.)

  3. Oh Sarah, I'm so sorry about your grandma. Sending you lots of love, you and your family will be in my thoughts.
    The shelf and dresser look wonderful. Sometimes getting our hands on a project we can do something about is the only way to deal with things we can't control. Hope you are well.

  4. Sorry to hear about your grandma, Sarah. However, your projects turned out mighty successful! Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

  5. Marie Mulqueen07 July, 2010

    So sorry to hear about your grandmother. Please pass our condolences on to the rest of the family as well.

    Glad you were able to find some comfort in a project. Sounds a whole lot like Rita.

  6. Anonymous07 July, 2010

    Like everyone else, I'm terribly crushed to hear this. Condolences to your family, good vibes and energy to your family via 3G and virtual hugs through the iHug app. If there is anything we can do, ask! We're here for you, darling.
    And yes, a can of paint does incredible wonders. I have these four Eames chairs that are on wheels; the leg on all of them was black, and for some reason it very much irked me. After a bad breakup, I decided to paint the legs taupe - sacrilegious to Eames aficionados, not to mention incredibly anal and trivial, considering there was only 1 foot of leg/post per chair that was barely seen; but to this day, I see the *brighter* looking chairs and feel so much lighter. It's goofy. But relieving.

  7. ah, thanks everyone; you are so sweet and your thoughts mean so much.

    melina, relieving is SUCH a perfect word for what it is. ah!

    marie, i do love to think i am channeling a bit to Rita ;)


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