watching paint dry

painting interior walls of a home is a huge task. especially when you’re like me and you want to get it all done in one sweep and haven’t prepared for it whatsoever, save for mentally.

so i budgeted $50.00 for this project. one wall in the hallway was a light blue as was the dining room and the wall that connected them was dark brown. all i wanted to do was prime the walls since i’m sure that since we’ve occupied this aparetment for 4 years, maintinence would paint the walls anyway. and no way do i want to be charged for their primer and labor. after a brief trip to home depot with my son, i had a 2 gallon container of primer, 2 nine inch roller refills, and a tray to lay the paint out in. all for $38.80. phew! under budget. i firmly believe in dropcloths and masking tape. and removing faceplates from walls before the fact. i am a very messy painter. as i type this i am still covered in it.
i started by taking down the pictures (dust loves to hide on top of frames) and filling in the holes with putty and a knife. i am no expert at patching a wall. after pressing the putty into said holes (some were big!) and scraping it off the surface of the walls, i had a pretty even surface. then i wiped the walls down with a wet washcloth to get rid of the ridiculously accumulated dust and debris so the paint would have a fair chance at sticking. i began to remove the faceplates and store all the screws in my jeans pocket. i pulled the plate off of the vacant cable outlet and discovered no less than 9 crayons that one of the boys holed away who knows how long ago. after that i removed the cover for the air filter over the air conditioning vent and exhumed 3 spoons, a set of valentine cards, 2 pens, an unsharpened pencil, and a wooden tree from a train set. all covered in dust and old fur: all disgusting. all went into the trash. all this was by the front door, where i came to find that i had to also remove the 5-hook keyrack and restore the light fixture that had been replaced for the sake of style to Apartment Complex Chic. had i ever personally changed a light fixture? no. ever read the instruction manual? luckily.
perhaps the most fun part of changing an electrical fixture is standing by the fuse box trying different fuses and screaming to your son “DID THE LIGHT TURN OFF YET???” and hearing. “NO!! I’LL TELL YOU IF IT TURNS OFF, MOM!!!” unfortunately the tv was also connected to that particular fuse so once i made my grand return i was greeted by a live audience. they watched as i removed the first light fixture from the wall and dropped all its little parts into the box it came in. again every screw went into my pockets. by daylight, we began to paint the walls with the primer, stopping in between coats on the wall in the dining room to prime around the missing fixture. we stepped lightly between all the dining room chairs lined up close to the wall as a makeshift scaffold. once that room was finished, i set to work on the light project. it is very difficult to hold a wall fixture in one hand while you try to twist tiny wires together, then cover them with electrical tape, then top it all off with that little plastic nub they put on wires, cram that all behind the metal plate that supports the weight of the light source, and then try and hold that up and find the screwholes and matching screws that are the right size for it and then secure it to the wall. there was no greater satisfaction than flipping that fuse back on, flipping the lightswitch and having that sucker turn on. but i did it!! i changed the whole thing by myself! a small moment in my personal history.
and then we continued to paint the hallway. as the kids ate dinner i painted the entryway and now all that’s left is the dark brown wall behind the entertainment armoire. it took more primer to cover the blue than it did the brown. i thought it would be the other way around. 4 coats for the blue and 3 for the brown. and i’m pretty sure there’s enough primer left in the 2 gallon container for the rest of this wall.
as far as collateral damage is concerned, my hair, arms, back(?) and jeans were all covered in paint, not to mention my hands. the floor is surprisingly unscathed as are the children and the dogs. there is still tomorrow to go though when i promised the kids they could help paint one of the walls. poor things just sat and watched today. they asked so many questions and were very encouraging and helpful and supportive. one little moment of their lives.
it was kind of odd painting over everything. i felt like i was trying to erase the fact that we were here. and that’s just what it is, a fact. but the memories don’t stay in the apartment. they stay with the occupants. taking everything down is like going back in time. reliving an old self that wanted to put that keyrack up or that was hellbent on Horrifying Mustard Yellow as a paint color, its only remaining evidence locked away beneath layer after layer after layer of any other color, peeking out from a tiny spot next to that popcorn ceiling.  but the more it looks like an empty evveryday apartment, the more i look forward to creating a home in a house.


About Renee

Native to Tucson and a mother of two! Been practicing yoga for over 8 years and making art and calligraphy pieces for most of my life. I want to help people learn to communicate with themselves and others. View all posts by Renee

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