"This is where the changing table was," I said as Luisa walked into the room, my hands hovering just above my hips as if I was still holding onto that piece of furniture long gone. "I know," she said, as she carried in the things we needed to patch the walls and repaint the room. Miguel turned 15 this summer and we promised him a freshly painted room with new furniture, knowing that this is the last time we'll remake this room for him. With the idea of last in my head, I couldn't seem to shake the memories of the firsts.
I knelt near the wall with a putty knife to begin patching a perfectly round hole, a reminder of the day Miguel learned that baseballs don't bounce off plaster. The hole was deep - down to the lathe - and as I removed the cracked plaster, I could see past layers of paint.
Beneath the current blue, there were two yellows. We put that first yellow coat on in 1996 when the room was our office and spare bedroom. It was a horrible yellow, really - like cheddar cheese - but I forgive us for the choice because we were in our 20's and excited about owning our own home and painting rooms whatever colors we wanted. My mom stayed in that yellow room when she came to visit and those visits were, in many ways, the beginning of our reconciliation.
Luisa painted the second yellow when I was pregnant with Miguel. It was a softer yellow, perfect for a nursery. We installed carpet over the hardwood floors that were beyond repair and then came that changing table and the crib and the rocking chair. I remember the feeling of being a new parent, so scared and tired and overwhelmed, but lying on the floor staring at our little baby in awe. Luisa spent many nights rocking Miguel to sleep in that room and I remember the uncertainty of the first three months when she had not yet been declared his legal parent. The rocking chair now sits in our room and we never use it but I'm not sure I can part with it.
There are the yellows and then the blue of Miguel's childhood. There were the holes and nicks, marks of his boundless energy. The curtain rod holder was bent and Luisa and I laughed as we remembered coming in the room to find him at 4 dressed in his wetsuit, dangling from the curtain rod. "I can't seem to get down," he said calmly and he couldn't explain what he'd been doing in the first place. As we began painting, we found a small muddy handprint on the ceiling and I said, "How did that even get there?" Neither of us had a clue. It's presence as difficult to grasp as the swift passage of time.
Now, the ceiling is a pristine white and the walls a calming gray. The curtains stained with window paints are gone and fresh white ones have taken their place. The metal shelves that held Legos are in the garage and new shelves now hold the extra accessories for his computer and the few books he chose to keep. Thankfully Calvin and Hobbes made the cut because I'm not sure I could have handled packing those away. The room is clean and organized and mature and a perfect reflection of the person our baby has become.
The room has many layers of paint and life and, somehow, it contains even more versions of all of us. We've talked about selling the house after the kids are gone and I imagine a realtor and strangers standing in that room wondering how to use a small space and, if I could, I would tell them not to worry - it's amazing how much a small room can hold.
Thank you to Melisa who lovingly strong armed me into blogging today. When she reminded me last night about our pact to blog today, I said, "You know what's easier than blogging? NOT BLOGGING." But she wouldn't let me get away with that. Now everyone should go read her blog - Suburban Scrawl!