Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fresh Paint, Fresh Start, Take Two

I’m coated with enamel paint right now. Some day, I’ll learn to paint and not paint myself. Maybe.

Yes, I have started another painting task, thus long hours holding a brush and … thinking.


As I put the first coat on the Adirondack chairs, I thought about why I’m so pessimistic about… everything.

My first reaction- except to what my kids present to me- is to be negative. No, it won’t work. No, it’s not right. No No No. Don’t ask my why the kids don’t get rained on the same way- their youthful exuberance must take over my cynicism.

I eye everything with mistrust. And I think about it- a lot. Even when I’m not painting.

Walter told me the other day I needed grounding.

You spend too much time in your head, he said. Get a job.

It’s true, I do. But I have a job. I write. It means… well… staying in my head most of the day. Sometimes on fantastic journeys, sometimes… not so much fun.

I pulled another chair out. More paint. More brooding.

Jeanine and I went to couples therapy last night. The therapist was stunned at our ability to make joint parenting decisions with relative ease but when it came to our individual needs? Watch out. We didn’t trust each other at all.

You don’t have my back, Jeanine said.

You don’t have mine, I replied.

The therapist became agitated. We can go from kind and open to closed doors in a second. Must be frustrating to be around because we show we can do it and then… slam. Not a chance.

You two have so much going for you… do you know that? She asked.

We continued to eye each other.

Drop your drawers, the therapist finally said.

She was being figurative. Time to let the defenses fall. I drop my drawers in a second when Jeanine asks literally. Please. Never more than one request is needed.

You might as well give it a try, she said. What do you have to lose?

The thought that raced through my head was…my pride.

It isn’t a small thing to lose.

By the third chair, I realized pride is a funny thing for me. It’s tied up with past humiliations. I have a hard time separating being open and the vulnerability I experienced- and continue to experience in some situations. It coats everything.

Fair enough but… I can’t paint my current world with my past.

Bad metaphors but the fumes were getting to me.

I need to let go. Walter is right and the therapist is right. I need to get out of my head and into my life. I need to open up.

Because dwelling- brooding- on the past and the past hurts isn’t going to get me what I want. Besides, therapy is expensive. Enough already. As I said to Ben last night as he dumped a bottle of paid-for water on the ground, there are people in India without uncontaminated water!

I thought I’d update the version I heard as a kid.

The chairs are all done. What was once splintering and faded is now glossy white. I’m going to put them in the front yard. An invitation to sit out and be visible, to invite conversation with neighbors. Walter swears air conditioning and backyards ruined neighborhoods. At every house he has the opportunity to design the front yard? He puts in a sitting area.

He thinks talking to people, opening up is a good thing. Crazy man.

Jeanine? I don’t know if I can trust her but to date, she’s done little to earn that reputation. It comes from my past. Okay, she has done one or two things along the line.

Me on the other hand? Oy. I wouldn’t even date me let alone marry me. What a mess.

I can’t stop being in my head for my job. I love it. I love to write. I love to consider, chew on concepts, twist images into powerful statements. Nothing gives me joy the way writing does.

Nothing makes me as crazy, either.

But with Jeanine? I have little to lose and a lot to gain. I love her. Sure, she’s a jerk a lot but god, so am I. And she doesn’t chew on toenails, fart or hog covers. She’s struggling with different demons but she’s chosen to take them on.

Well… she does hog covers sometimes. But with all the hot flashes I’m having lately? It’s a bonus.

I’m going to put my chairs out in the front yard. Walter is right. People need to have a space to stop by and say hello. To get to know the people next door, the ones three doors down or, if nothing else, to be open to the idea.

I will open my doors.

Drop my drawers.

Fresh paint. Fresh start.

I think I've said this before.

Take two...


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