“The time between meeting and finally leaving is sometimes called falling in love.” ~Lisa Loeb
We painted the back porch together, but separately. It was a labor of love, really. I wanted Payne’s Blue Gray, and she wanted a kind of traditional blue, so we compromised… and used the kind of traditional blue. I didn’t mind too much after the fact. She hadn’t even entertained the idea that I would want to help paint, so when I offered a curious smile touched her lips before she said yes.
I had the daytime, weekday, duties, largely because I had no job early that summer. A lot of applications were in the wind but none had blown back to me. It’s one of the reasons I offered to help paint the porch, because it gave me something to do where I felt useful. I think on some level she knew that. She painted at night, when the cicadas began their singsong patterns, after she got home from work, the light blazing on the porch like a mini-sun.
Her brushstrokes were quick and efficient, one next to another in endless patterns that I could never quite discern but that were perfect nonetheless. Mine were cobbled together like those ancient, tiny Philadelphia streets I remembered from so long ago, one stroke sideways and the other up and down, never parallel but always touching the next stroke. I would often forget which ones I had already painted once, or twice, and some spots would get three or four passes of traditional blue paint because of it. She told me it was okay.
Then, one day in late summer, we were done. It was weird too, because we had been working on the project for what seemed to me like forever, because it had been the longest, most perfect summer as the sun had streaked into the porch while I sweated through my work. When it was done, though, it looked amazing. Or at least the part she had completed did. But she didn’t judge me. She never judged me. She just smiled, gave me a hug, and told me it was a job well done.
Painting that back porch wasn’t the first thing we had done together, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, but it was an adventure in patience and vision. When that porch was finished it was a testament to what we could do when we put our minds to it. It was a beautiful floor that I didn’t want to walk on for fear of scuffing the perfect blue. I wasn’t naive. I was just proud of what we could do when we put our minds together.
I miss that porch, but I miss the adventure more. Now on to the next journey. Together.