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As you may have guessed during this past blog-free week, I was on vacation with Mr. Apron.  Either that, or you thought my vegetarian blog was so hot, I had to let it cool off.  In any case, I did not advertise our trip to Maine in advance, for fear you might break into my uninhabited home and steal my bassoon, or my sewing machine, or my cheese slicer, three things of great value to me.  Even if I had told you I was going to be away, and given you the exact dates, you wouldn’t have found the house empty, because the painters were here again!

Mr. Apron or I had this great idea to have them come while we were on vacation!  We’d be like a real Main Line couple and have “work done” without the inconvenience that usually accompanies having workmen in the house.  Especially because our bedroom (including closet) was painted, we had to purge the closet of all our precious clothing, and heap it all on the bed, it would have been very inconvenient indeed.  So my in-laws (THANK YOU!) let the painters in each morning, collected our mail, played with the lights, and held down the fort while we cavorted up in Maine.  (Vacation highlights and photos coming soon…)  We sunned, we hiked, we biked, we sailed, we shopped, we dropped, we bowled, we ate, and ate, and ate.  And all the while, our house was transforming.

The wallpaper is gone, folks.  All the old-lady wallpaper (except in the downstairs powder room, where it’s almost inoffensive, and would be more trouble than it’s worth to redo in a room that small) is gone.  Our room is a lovely earthy mossy green.  Our office is a slate blue.  It feels so good to be home.  I don’t just mean having space to ourselves again, and not learning about the financial woes of our neighbors at the B&B due to their loud cell phone conversations.  I don’t just mean being able to unpack, do laundry, and cook.  I mean the whole thing.  I mean being back in a place where we’re truly at home, in our own skin, surrounded by our stuff, our decor, the clothing and furniture that’s meaningful to us, or at least familiar.  Even in our nasty 1980s kitchen with its poop-brown cabinetry, and vomit-colored cobble-stone sheet linoleum flooring, and decaying drop ceiling, as I heated up two masala veggie burgers (Trader Joe’s = awesomeness.  Tasted like samosas on a bun.) in a little stir-fry pan, I moved around the kitchen pulling out utensils, finding plates, and serving up a very simple late dinner, and it all felt familiar.  This doesn’t mean I’m not going to cry tears of joy as we rip the flooring up and tear the “ceiling” down, ‘cuz you better believe I will.  It just feels good right now, after having been away since last Friday evening, almost 10 days.  We haven’t been away this long since our honeymoon! 

We stopped at my parents’ house in RI to pick up the dog, watch old home movies (slipsofthetongue’s 4th birthday on Betamax — much worthy future post), and spend quality time with my parents, (baking scones, being dragged by dogs, and walking around the neighborhood).  They suffer from an unfortunate lack of space compounded by having had to move to a smaller house due to real estate prices on the east coast versus our previous home in the midwest, where the cost of living is quite low.  And they have stuff.  Stuff from 30 years of marriage, 27 years of having had children, and lifetimes of other stuff (dolls, harps, dress shirts, shoes, neckties).  It feels a bit cramped, and you have to relearn where to find things everytime you go back. 

“Well, the keys are now in the closet where the fridge used to be.  The fridge is near the backdoor now, so of course we’ve moved the trashcan over to the butler pantry.  We keep the extra folding chair by the door to the dining room otherwise the dogs go in and get stuck and have “accidents”.  Also, if you want Diet Coke, it’s in the basement fridge, so while you’re going down there, stop by the sewing room (which is now in the basement) and see if you like any of the shoes I’ve laid out that your uncle just sent me.  Careful opening the fridge because the light is out, but you can use the one above the table saw.  Also, the watermelon might fall out, so hang onto it as you open the door to grab cokes and clementines for your drive.  Also, take a package of masala burgers (ah, you see where our dinner came from?) from the freezer.  Don’t use the shower in the hall bath because we have a leak, so you can shower in our room, the third floor, or on the first floor.  The dogs need to be fed, but Holly only eats this $60/bag dog food, so make sure Annabella doesn’t get into it.  Their bowls are up on the counter in the butler pantry so Annabella (the chocolate lab) doesn’t think they’re a chew toy.  Feed Holly (paranoid border collie) in the corner so she doesn’t think the other dogs  want her food, and watch Annabella so she doesn’t help herself to Finley’s food once she’s done.  ”

It is nice to be home.  Aside from the heap of clothing on our bed, and the fact that the painters decided I should put my sewing machine near the window, things are pretty much how we left them.  And that feels pretty damn good.

We’re getting the first floor painted.  When we moved in around February 19th, or 25th, or whenever that whole debaucle came to fruition, the house was in a state of change.  Our mission: to De-Old-Lady-ify the place.  She had lived here for 62 years, so even if she wasn’t an Old Lady when she moved in, she sure was when she picked out all those floral wall papers.  Still, we knew deep down it would be a beautiful House, and an intensely personal Home, if we could just strip away the layers of Bag Balm, hair dressing, and Stanna Stair lift. 

It begins.  The previous owners, perhaps recognizing the non-appeal to modern homebuyers, began to strip the wallpaper in the living room and dining room.  To say it was a hack job would have been kind.  Though we stipulated in our closing papers that those rooms would be “prepped for paint” (i.e., completely free of wallpaper), what we found was the sellers grand-son-in-law (or something like that) scraping away at c. 30 year old paper with a tool essentially no more effective than a spatula.  Which left bits of paper and backing, scads of glue, and huge gouges where crosses and needlepoint used to hang.  No so simple as a DIY job, much as we would have liked to develop that pride in our home by undertaking the painting ourselves. 

But Aaron and his crew came in yesterday morning and turned the place upside-down.  Our belongings are covered in plastic sheeting and painters’ tape.  I walked the dog this afternoon on a luggage strap — his leash was nowhere to be found.  Mr. Apron’s beloved Bluetooth is somewhere between the mounds of what used to be our dining room table set, and what used to be our cozy living room.  I’m just grateful he had the foresight to rescue our stack of unpaid bills from the mantle, or they’d be long buried. 

Yesterday I came home to mounds of plastic sheeting and drop cloths, our walls covered liberally in spackle.  Today, it was a different story altogether.  Despite being warned by Mr. Apron on a 7:16am voicemail not to freak out when I see the wrong color on the dining room walls — it’s just a primer, he calmly soothes — I was still excited to see the changes.  I walked into a different house entirely.  Surely this was not our home!  In place of the scraped “faux-finish” we joked that the sellers had left us, I found our colors.  Maybe they have more coats to put down, or finishing touche to make, but the essence of this idea that had been forming in my brain is now on our walls.  Let me tell you about our colors, if I may.  Prepare to get hungry, as they all (except one) ended up being food-related.

Enter to a living room in a buttery warm yellow.  Turn to face the fireplace, and find an accent wall in “light eggplant” (my terms; I can’t remember the MAB paint names), with an offset fireplace in the same yellow.  The eggplant continues up the stairs, bring a richness to our upstairs hallways that is amazing me.  Go back down now, and into the dining room, where you’ll find a chair rail, separating two colors.  The bottom, where you’d find wainscoting if we were that cool, is a yellow one shade lighter than the living room.  The upper — squee! — is Cherokee Red.  Cherokee Red is a Frank Lloyd Wright color, the one he used liberally at Fallingwater.  It allows me to bring a small piece of architectural inspiration to our otherwise ordinary twin home in a suburb of Philadelphia.  There are no fewer than 5 replicas of our “style” home in the surrounding neighborhood.  But no other, I wager, has Frank Lloyd Wright’s Cherokee Red.  It’s a dark red, full of metallic rust, with insistent orange tones leaking out.  Mr. Apron convinced me to let the painters do the inside of the front door, too, and I suggested we carry the Cherokee Red there, too.  And damn! if that doesn’t look good!  Move back into our little L kitchen, and you’ll find Lemon Meringue (I did remember that MAB name), which I hope will complement our1950s decor, including a candy red dinette set (complete with red vinyl chairs), a kelly green canister set (with red and yellow decals), white with gold-flecked Formica (TM) countertops and backsplash, and authentic 1950s curtains: kelly green with red and yellow cheese graters, whisks, egg beaters, and spoons.  It’s going to be so cool when we put the furnishings back together, assemble a few shelves, and hang some artwork.  You’ll have to come visit!

I was going to vent about work today, about not having enough time to see all the kids because I had a meeting with my supervisor (“just 2 minutes” turned into 45), about her being critical of my report writing, which runs contradictory to the feedback I usually get from her, and having to rewrite the report, which is just another thing I have to do, and a colossal waste of time, as the report is just an exercise I have to do before I become a full and proper speech language pathologist.  But instead, I was struck by the infusion of color and overnight De-Old-Lady-ifiction our home had taken on as I burst through the door, hoping the dog wasn’t overcome by fumes.  And of course he wasn’t — we opted for low-VOC paint.  So overwhelmed was I by the colors, I decided to write about that instead. 

I hope that in the months and years to come, coming Home will mean I’m able to leave my work anxieties, frustrations, and agita at the threshold.  That I’ll really and truly feel as though I’m coming Home.

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November 2020