Bathroom as Metaphor

So, you think you want to paint the bathroom. No, you're sure you want to. Pretty sure, anyway. 

It's fine the way it is, you guess, but when you go in there something about it bothers you and then maybe perhaps accidentally on purpose you gash the wall when you are trying to fix the towel holder and then you can't match the old paint anyway, so yeah. Now you have a real reason. Now it's a project.  


As if just wanting a nicer bathroom wasn't reason enough. As if being grossed out by that weird clay-brown-poopish color that was in there wasn't reason enough. But you don't know, maybe just leave well-enough alone. But you can't. Now it's in your head. 

You tell your closest friend of your plans. 

"I think I might paint the bathroom," you confess as you and your friend push your kids on the swings at the park. 

"Really?" she says, truly excited in the way that Moms are with any sort of change. "What color?" 

Good question. You haven't thought that far ahead but now it's out there. Now the idea of this is out there and that sort of makes it feel more real, like it could happen. 

You begin to look at paint samples, testing them out in The App you download. You begin to casually mention the idea with others. The random person you see painting a doorframe on a house on your street. And your husband, since he lives with you and might see said bathroom sometime. 

"What if I painted the bathroom?" you try to work it into your four-and-a-half-minutes of allotted adult conversation time as you are gathering the 32 sippy cups from around the house that somehow your two kids used during ONLY ONE DAY of hydration. 

"Where do all these cups come from?" he asks, clearly enthralled by your plans. 

"I don't know. Hey, what about the bathroom?"

"OK, sure. Do you want me to do it?"

"No," you say but hmmm maybe but no. "No I can do it," because you can do things even though you have not really painted anything before but it's a small room. How hard can it be? "I will do it."

The husband shrugs. "Sure let me know the colors you want, I'll get swatches."

You take that as a vote of confidence. 

That night you stay up late, downloading swatches into The App and obsessing over shades. Night Sky. Joy. Smoke on the Water. Ruby Slipper. Band names or paint swatches? Too many choices. You stay up until 12:45 am.

You narrow it down to three and your husband comes back from Home Depot with four, because it's a project now and he wants to feel involved. He paints samples on the wall and you pick one. He slightly disagrees but it's your project so you win. He buys the paint and some rollers. 

And they sit in the basement. 

Meanwhile, life goes on. You still dislike the bathroom and now it has four odd swaths of color on top of the original ugly color. Somehow there are other things to do in life. School starts. Birthdays arrive. Holidays approach and rush by like an express train. And then it's winter and the sky is endless gray and it's going to be winter forever and gah hasn't anyone painted that bathroom yet?

Friends return from using the facilities and ask if 'stripes' are a 'new thing.' Ha ha, you say, and close the door. 

Then one day, about six months later, the sun comes out. The next day it rains, and washes away all but the most persistent snow drifts in the far corners of the yard away. And then the sun comes out again, like it means it this time. 

And you wander down to the basement, just to see if that paint is still there. It is. You take the blue tape and begin to line all the corners, because details. You crack open the gallon of paint which seems like so much paint and you begin with the edges gaining some confidence until you nearly fall off the vanity but then you don't so you're good. 

The next day, you go for the ladder and the roller and now it's looking... bad. But you see glimpses of your vision taking shape. And maybe it's the paint fumes, but yeah, OK not bad. 

A few days later you are ready for the final coat, some touchups. Is this enough paint? Yes. It's almost done. 

When that is dry, you put things back. The cup, the soap, the mirror, the hand towel holder that set off this project in the first place. You step back. You smile. 

You see every imperfection. The tiny smudge on left of the light. The drip just above the doorframe. The smudge by the door. But it's done. It's yours and it's done. 

You wonder what took you so long. 

And now you want to paint the kitchen.