“By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves.” — Marie Dressler, Actress (1869-1934)
I hope that I can recite this next year and actually believe every word of it. You know how it’s said that, until you are willing to learn the lesson, you are destined to repeat it? Well, I’ve been taking some of the same classes several times with no passing grade. It’s a wonder that the “Registrar of Life” doesn’t send me a tuition surcharge bill for exceeding maximum credit hours!
It’s been a difficult past few weeks since I turned 49. The November/December holidays aren’t exactly my favorite time of year (another story for another time), and our poor little rescue dog is going through some physical and emotional adjustment issues — we ALL are, for that matter. And the problem is, while I’m taking life VERY seriously right now (maybe a bit TOO seriously), I’m also taking myself a bit too seriously as well.
So, in order to get my mind off these things for a bit, I turn on the television and spend time with my guilty pleasure… HGTV. That is, until I get depressed, seeing all those freshly-painted, immaculately-decorated homes. Then I say a swear word (or three) at the hosts, who never look as if they broke a sweat while tackling the transformation. Perfect shiny hair, perfect clothes. Toothy, white, confident smiles. Screw them.
So, as I went upstairs to find something else to do, I passed by our laundry area. A closet-spaced area in our hallway that I have hated for the entire fifteen years I’ve owned this home. There are days I swear it mocks me — dryer door slightly open, clothes falling out like a giant fluffy tongue, flapping silent obscenities at me. It knows how I hate folding clothes, especially the ones that end up thrown in a pile on a teenager’s floor with little regard for the time it took to clean them. One time, it decided to coax the washer into one last karmic slap-in-the-face before taking its final spin cycle, relieving itself all over our hall carpet, gallons of water soaking down through the first floor ceiling and into our garage. I have never forgiven it for that little stunt.
The more I looked at the space, the more I felt an urge to grab a can of paint — any can of paint — and make one of those HGTV-inspired transformations. It has never changed from the drab contractor-selected boring eggshell white that was carelessly slapped on its walls back in December of 2000 before the sale sign was placed in the yard. What the hell? It was the weekend, and it was too cold and rainy to get outside and do anything else.
I managed to find 3/4 of a can of paint that I actually liked. It was a calm blue-gray color called “Quietude.” I stirred it up as best I could, as it had been sitting since sometime in early 2014. It looked okay, so I grabbed a roller, stood in front of the washer/dryer, and took a long, deep breath.
After realizing that it was going to be rather difficult to completely unplug all of the cords and water/drain lines, I decided to pull the machines out as far as possible and squeeze in behind them. Ummmm… then I realized I would have about two feet of space between me the wall to be painted. My clothes would be wrecked.
So, I pulled off my pants, took off my sweater, grabbed the roller, and started climbing. I managed to get over the dryer without hanging myself on the cord. It felt much “roomier” with just my undies on. I could move and breathe easier, too.
Painting was a bit tricky in some spaces, and I had to keep coming back up for air — I’m a little bit claustrophobic. Even the dog kept checking on me to make sure I hadn’t passed out. Of course, I also had to vacuum out the piles of lint-bunnies that had accumulated in the last little while.
I was in a painting frenzy, determined to have this #(@*% project completed before heading to work on Monday. Rolling as fast as I could, and popping up for air every few minutes.
Then, it occurred to me — what if someone walked in unexpectedly? A neighbor? The stepkids, coming home early from their mom’s? There was NO way I could climb out and over and recover my clothes in enough time.
Nope. I’d just have to stay here until they left.
Finally, I managed to squeeze the last possible drop of paint from that can and covered the last horrific trace of eggshell. It was DONE. I was proud of my work. I was proud of my athleticism in being able to climb over appliances at 49 years of age and not strangle myself. And I was half-NAKED while doing all of this.
Yeah, who’s your Momma NOW, HGTV?
In this moment, I believe I finally earned a passing grade on the “not taking oneself too seriously” assignment.
Now, on to the next course.