In graduate school, when I left the man I was engaged to but not in love with I moved into a dark little house that had for years belonged to a woman named Frieda. I didn’t know Frieda but I loved the signs of her that remained in her house. The green and red tiled kitchen floor, the red countertops, the pink bathroom. Frieda had moved to an assisted living facility and I was renting her house. I didn’t think she would mind if I slapped a few coats of paint on the walls of the living room, which was paneled in dark wood. I was unspeakably poor but somehow found the money for a few gallons of paint and I spent the first few nights in my new house alone, painting and mentally whitewashing the past two years. I took down the dark curtains and let in the white light of a Eugene winter. I cleaned the kitchen and stocked the cabinets with the things I liked to eat: tomato soup, saltines, pasta, cookies. I packed the fridge with cheese, lots of cheese. Feta, havarti, Gouda and some yellow kind with chives that I would cut into slivers and eat with olives. I filled the crisper with lettuce, spinach and good, dark beer.
Some nights when I stared at the walls I’d painted flat white that first week I would think they were the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. [Read More]