painting the house

Being a homeowner feels sort of overwhelming most of the time. There is always, always, always another thing. If the whole house is vacuumed and dusted, with clean bathrooms and clean sheets and a clean kitchen, then the insurmountable mess of the garage is always there to make me feel guilty. If the back porch is neatly swept and organized, everything in its proper place, plants trimmed back, then there’s weeding to be done and trees that need work and plants that should be treated for bugs or infection. Even when everything’s working, there’s always an appliance making me nervous — the dishwasher not draining, the dryer not drying, the air-conditioner making a funny noise.

And all of that doesn’t even touch the big stuff, like the fact that the paint is (was!) peeling away on the garage and fading so strongly on the sunny side that it looked patchwork. Or the spot on the front where one of the boards is rotting away.

For months, I’ve been wrestling with indecision. Sell the house or get a job that lets me take better care of the house? Those felt like the only two options. Somehow a couple of months ago, I decided to try a third option — at least for the moment — and deal with the big stuff as best I could. So this past week was the week of painting the house. I started working on it a week ago — scraping paint, pressure-washing, priming, and doing my best to patch the area of wood rot. On Saturday, my family and some friends came and helped me paint. We were done with three sides of the house by noon, at which time we had a barbecue — burgers, hot dogs, fruit salad, potato chips, tortilla chips, and three kinds of dip. And then the kids went swimming.

I’m still tired, with sore muscles that twinge every time I raise my arms, but oh, so satisfied. And yes, that picture is me, sitting on my roof (and making my father very nervous — it’s his hand on the ladder, and I can almost promise that there were worried words coming out of his mouth.) But every time I look up at that wall now — nicely blue, trim bright and white — I get to think, I did that. I took care of that.

It’s a good feeling.