Life on the edge

I’m painting my bedroom.

If you know anything at all about me and painting, right now you’re giggling. Because … well, you know what? In this case a few pictures are worth well more than a thousand words:

What can I say? I’m a Sagittarius — a little too gung-ho to get started on creative projects, to get started on just about any project, really. I plan and I prep and I get everything almost all the way ready and then I get too excited and just begin and then I get too close to the edge. By which I mean I exceed my limits. And the result is colour on the ceiling where really there should be only white. So, when Sharp asked me to write on the theme of taking life “#totheedge,” I was all like, “Have I got a metaphor for YOU.”

This time, I’m going to take the painting slower. This time, I’m going to cover every inch of floor with drop cloths, tape all the edges, wait for things to dry properly, make good on all the advice my next-door-neighbour/former-pro-painter Holly so generously bestowed after I texted her and asked her for a “pre-painting consult.” This time, maybe I won’t spill over the edges.

But even as I type those words, I’m shaking my head and smiling at just how adorable and naïve I am, ducky. Because I already know what will happen, and so do you. Bet on it: there’s gonna be paint where paint ought not to be, and all the prepping and taping and waiting and good intentions in the world won’t be able to stop it. There will be spills, and smudges, blurred boundaries, drips on the ceiling fan. And the best I’ll be able to do is to catch them and sponge them off before they dry, cover over my mistakes, and hope no one notices. Most of all, I hope that I don't notice, because I'm the one who will.

I could hire someone to paint for me, of course. But I won’t, partly because money, partly because I kind of like painting, and mostly because this feels like the kind of job — a rite of passage, a ritual — that I need to do by myself. (According to my mother, “by myself” was my very first two-word phrase. I was a fun toddler.)

There are only about a million and three metaphors here.

In this post-separation world, I’m making space for my new worldview, imagining life going forward in ways that are radically different than I imagined it might for so long. Some of that is a cause for grief, and some of that is joy, and all of it requires a leap of faith that comes from clearing space, deciding on a colour scheme, drawing new boundaries and taping them off, and then getting as up close and personal to those boundaries — those edges — as I can with a paintbrush and the steadiest hands I can muster.

 Secret underpaintings. 

Secret underpaintings. 

I’m on the edge of a newer life here. It’s not brand-new: a lot of different colours on the same walls, variations on the same schedule, the same paintings hung in new spots (and new paintings hung in old spots). Different mattress, same box spring, and so on. Sometimes, I look around the house and it feels as though I’m in one of those double cartoons where they change nine things and you have to figure out which ones — utterly familiar and utterly unfamiliar all the same: those chairs are different, and that cutlery, and that painting is in a different spot, and that one’s gone. Oh, and you’re the only adult who lives here any more, with all the privileges and obligations and responsibilities and emotions that go along with that. Speaking of emotions, I’m second-guessing my emotional state constantly: I feel just fine right now, but what if I feel bad later? What will I do then? I’m trying to notice that habit, remind myself that worrying about future emotional states isn’t particularly productive.

But painting — thats entirely productive. Painting is task after task after task, immediate and satisfying, an act of bravery and change.

New colours on old walls, imagining change and then acting on it. It’ll be messy, and fun, and maddening, and I’ll probably want to quit more than once, but in the end — with any luck — it’ll be kind of beautiful, and highly imperfect, and all mine. (Except for the seven-year-old who has taken to cuddling up for stories in my new bed on the nights that he’s here NOM, or the 10-year-old who likes to curl up in the same bed to read books or play video games. That’s good. There’s room for them in my vision.) There will be spills. There will be blurred boundaries and uneven borders and paint where it ought not to be. But there will also be new colour, new possibilities, beauty, satisfaction, and kids curled up on my new sheets. You can’t have all that unless you get right to the edge, look over at what lies beyond it, and take the leap anyway.

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This post is sponsored by the Sharp AQUOS Crystal phone, which features a five-inch, edgeless screen that allows for maximum viewing with a minimal handprints (no painter’s tape required). It's also got great audio, featuring Harman/Kardon technologies, and a fab camera. I am being compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own.