Primitive Skills and Room Renovations


I took up the last of my vacation and scheduled it all for this coming week. I just really really need a break from life. I need to put my kids on the bus and go back to bed for a few hours. Just for a few days. I just need to crawl under that weighted blanket – which is fucking life – and I need to chill the hell right out.

I have the wickedest headache this afternoon. But it’s been a crazy ass busy week. I got the entire living room redone. I can’t tell you what it means to be painting and flooring. Not only are all of the smells and all of the dust sneezes getting rectified as the carpet goes bye-bye and the laminate goes down, but so are the memories of what that house had become.

It really, really, started to feel like my own personal prison in that house after I got married. My ex-husband was so resentful of me for the pregnancy which, right hand to God, y’all, was absolutely not part of my plan either. It just became this big, infected wound in our relationship and he wasn’t willing to talk about it and trying to talk to him just made him angrier. We developed this “ignore it and never speak of it” attitude toward our issues that ultimately festered and burst. But not before I spent a lot of time either isolated by implicit expectations or by my own crushing self-loathing, which also blossomed out of control during this period of my life.

Some really unexpected sources of kindness have presented themselves to me in the last few weeks, providing unsolicited and exceedingly kind feedback for the person they recognize me to be, which is nothing like the heinous monster I see myself as most of the time. It’s been refreshing.

So has the renovation. I painted our walls to reflect our lives together. I wanted our house to be a living memoir. I told myself from a very young age that I was not getting divorced. That when I got married that was it, I was committed, and I was going to honor that commitment come hell or high water.

It was incredibly hard for me to (a) see when there was nothing left to be committed to and (b) throw in my hand when it did become apparent because I’m nothing if not motivated by investment. I may not be the most careful or the best at details, but I work hard and when I’ve spent time on something, even if what I’ve come up with is less than an ideal finished product or work in progress, I’ll be damned if I’m giving up on it. I find it very difficult to let go of things that I’ve invested emotional energy into, and that’s part of the reason that I hesitate so often and resist getting emotionally involved in anything – people, projects, situations, anything – for as long as I can. Because once I’m in I’m all in. I’m immersed. I’m rooted. I’m ready to go down with the ship. If I commit to you, you can rest assured that I’m not giving up until there is literally nothing left to cling to.

It sounds like a lot better of a trait than it actually is, for me anyhow.

But this is the house. We’re starting with the downstairs. My stepfather, who owns the house, is putting out for the floors and I’m taking on the walls and other minor updates myself. I’m very thankful that he’s chosen to gift us new floors. I couldn’t have done it without him and the carpet was so stained and ratty. I was embarrassed to even have people come inside, honestly.

The one wall that says Chapter One? That’s where our wedding photos hung. The day that the state attorney general banged on that front door beside the words Chapter One, all of my wedding photos rattled and shuddered on their hooks like a chill had run through the very walls. That wall’s been empty since 2014, except for those two stupid words.

I can’t tell you how happy I was to paint over them and fill the holes where our wedding pictures were. I wish it were that easy to erase the memories sometimes too. The wall that says “all because two people fell in love?” That was pictures of the girls, and use with the girls, and him with the girls. That wall’s been more or less empty for a while too. It’s amazing the change that can happen in your heart when your house makes a big change.

I said before that it felt al ittle like a prison, my house. There’s a reason for that. This is one of the pictures I’ve posted over the last few days, as I document the process of exorcism through interior decorating:

At one point, every door in our house had a chain lock on it. No one ever got locked in a room. But they were there, on every door. Originally, they were there to make sure that the girls didn’t get into “his” room. His separate man room. Or his bedroom. I couldn’t watch them both every minute. The locks were there to protect things from people. His things. From us. They were there to delineate spaces. His spaces. The girls’ spaces. My spaces were the shared spaces. The sofa. The kitchen. The hallway. The bathrooms. All around me were lockable doors, but not one that made a private space for me. I became a ghost, slowly, over years and years. I’m not patching the holes made by the screws that held these locks up. I’ll paint around them, but the holes are staying. The holes will stay, and they will echo a reminder, and every time I look at them, they will whisper the words “never again, never again, never the fuck again.”
And then there’s this one:
So, I’ve been holding off on sharing this, but as I narrow in on having the first room basically back to its new normal, I find myself sitting here just taking it all in, and this one element of the room has me captivated. I’ve become more and more aware of the metaphor over the last several days. I had the caterpillars inside for a couple of days in an aquarium and two of them crawled out as they got ready to go become chrysalides. One is now on my curtain rod, which means the last curtain won’t be hung until I can be sure she’s not going to make it (her color and the big black spot lead me to believe she’s not going to emerge). But how perfect is the timing, and the fact that she’d install herself, the perfect symbol of profound change, in a room that was changing, profoundly, to reflect a profound change on the part of the woman who lives in the room? Keeping my fingers crossed she does emerge, well, and ready to fly to Mexico. 😳
Other than that, things have been pretty much the same. It’s been getting downright chilly at night, which thrills me to no end. I love waking up to mist and damp yellow leaves on my windshield, fog in the air as the earth reheats itself and the moisture of the night before becomes atmosphere again. I love not sweating my ass off while trying to apply make up and I love, love, love the everloving shit out of not buring through a layer of SPF 70. I love the absence of heat headaches. I love that I can curl my hair and have it (1) stay curled and (2) not turn into a frizzy ass mess because of humidity. I love that I can wear jeans and boots and sweaters (oh, God how I adore big, knitted sweaters I can curl into like a turtle into a warm, soft shell of love) without making myself miserable.
Bring fall.
Bring it.
I want every last drop of autumn. It’s my favorite season of all time.
The start of fall comes around the end of August and the end of August each year means one thing here: the Kinzua Heritage Festival. I covered it for work again this year. Here are this year and last year’s photos and a video I took today.

I’m glad it’s all over, actually. I have one last thing to do this afternoon – a picnic with my Vietnamese nail guy and his family at the home they just bought in actually a really nice ass part of Russell that makes me jealous as hell, actually. But I’m also really excited for them and happy that they’ve got such a nice place and so I will go, and I will deal with the smell of summer on my body and the throbbing ultraviolet headache once I’ve had a chance to put some of their delicious authentic Vietnamese cuisine in mah belly.

I said it.

Mah Belly. Just like Fat Bastard.

It would appear that I’m incapable of feeling any meaningful sort of shame.

Oh well.

Oooh, column this week was badass, if I do say so myself. Check it out.

5 thoughts on “Primitive Skills and Room Renovations

    1. Thanks! Isn’t it amazing the difference a little update can make? I love the floors. They look like weathered barn wood. It’s one of those design elements that’s going to be really cliche and ugly in about 20 years and then 20 years after that come back into style again. Like wood paneling on walls. Hahaha. The changes continue…found someone new to sit in my new living room with me. 😳 More to come…

      Liked by 1 person

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