Thursday, September 29, 2011

The story of a paintbrush

Every paintbrush, I believe, tells a story. Because no matter how well one cleans a paintbrush after using it, stains from the paint inevitably remain on the brush. Recently I took this picture of my paintbrush, and paused for a moment to listen to its stories.
There were tan and white remnants from painting my living room last summer. Those walls looked terrible when I moved into this house three years before, but I thought I’d only be here short-term, so it took me three years to A) decide I would be here for awhile, and B) work up the courage to ask permission from the people I rent from. That summer, I bought my very first brushes, roller, trays, drop cloths, and painter’s tape. I felt like I’d reached a whole new level of adulthood! Naomi and Olivia came over to help paint, and it was (I believe) one of Naomi’s last days in town before moving across country. Our conversation ranged from theology to boys to feminism to jobs to our future plans. We ended the day with Sonic, Naomi going to a final house church gathering, and Olivia going home to take care of her new puppy.

A couple weeks later, my paintbrushes took a trip to Lauren’s new house and put on some purple and teal accents. Lauren had just bought a house, which was obviously exciting, and we had some work days to help celebrate and get the house ready for her to move in. I chuckled when Lauren’s dad told us to disregard several pieces of (key) instruction on the spackle and paint labels, and enjoyed learning his new tips that I had never heard in my lifetime of painting things. That day, Amy and I had some good, kind of deep conversations while carefully painting along the ceiling and around the windows on opposite sides of the bedroom. We later joined more people in painting the living room, and it was that afternoon that I got to know Josh and Morgan a little better.

Weeks (perhaps months) later, I brought out the brushes again, along with white paint left over from my living room trim, to brighten my kitchen windowsill. Since before I had moved in, the sill was hopelessly dingy, no matter how much I scrubbed it. Which felt like a sort of insult to my domestic skills. That simple, fresh coat of paint did wonders for the brightness of my kitchen—and made the kitchen feel so much cleaner!

And now my paintbrushes have donned black paint from a recent coffee table makeover. At least a year or two ago, Stephanie gave me a hand-me-down coffee table from her uncle. The finish was in bad shape, but since I didn’t have a coffee table, I gladly accepted the offer and planned to sand it down and stain or paint it. Then I just never got around to it. And whenever I thought hard about it, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to paint or stain, I’d get tired of trying to figure out which would be better, and would put off the decision for another day. Finally, I settled on a dark cherry/mahogany stain to match my dining set, went to Lowe’s with determination, promptly changed my mind, and came home with gray primer and black paint. That Saturday afternoon I enjoyed the solitude while listening to music and a couple episodes of This American Life. I thought about Stephanie and our running jokes that I should marry her uncle (who is now happily married to someone his own age), and anticipated hosting Mollie, Wade, Mattie, and Naomi the following evening and enjoying their company.

In my paintbrushes’ short lifetime, we have made good memories with some dear friends. Today I appreciated the reminder of those sweet memories, and I look forward to writing new stories with my paintbrushes.

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