Four years. I mean it, four years it’s been there, taunting me and I’ve not tweaked a corner, not fingered a single edge. Bits of decades old wallpaper have curled and frayed, exposing layers of other older wallpaper behind them, but I have not given in to temptation. Others have dared to poke a finger behind the yellowed paper, lifting and scraping, but the most I’ve done is pressed that same paper down, smoothing it out and leaving well enough alone.
And then it happened. The girls were sitting, happily ensconced in PB&J on fresh sourdough, the bread halves opened and the gooey peanut butter and jam fast becoming a mask on their Saturday morning faces. I had, up until that very moment been content to take the wipe I had in my hand and absentmindedly clean the nutty smudges on the table. I still don’t know how it began, but somehow one of my hands, I’m not sure if it was my right or my left, reached out and finally took hold of the 6 inch flap of wallpaper that fluttered each time we opened and closed the front door. It was brittle in my hand and I think I expected it to break, leaving the 5 feet of paper above it in place. That was not the case, not the case at all.
Before I knew it I was holding a swath of wallpaper longer than my arm, the room went silent and Briar said,
“Mama, what are you doing? Are you ruinin’ the wall?”
Suddenly I was 7 again and standing beside the tv that had just unceremoniously tumbled from its perch after I innocently tried to turn it. Oh. My. God.
“Umm, honey, mama isn’t ruining the wall. She’s fixing it. Yes, sweet jesus, I’m fixing it. Mom and Dad are going to fix the wall, make it better.”
“Oh, you aren’t ruinin’ the wall? Ok. You gonna fix it? Is daddy gonna paint it pink?”
“Rooo-nin. Roo-nin. Pay-purr,” Avery chortled.
“No, honey, not ruined. Better.”
I looked at the wall and then at the clock. Sean was not going to be happy. He has warned me time and again that this is not the next project in our never ending project docket, in fact this doesn’t even make the top five, or top ten, he’s told me. Don’t get any ideas. And I didn’t, I so didn’t, but this was going to look like a grade A, Amanda, I-thought-it-would-be-ok idea.
“Daddy’s gonna be mad. Very maaaaad.” Briar was saying with a heavily furrowed brow. I realized that I had been repeating those very words over and over again as the edges of the remaining paper curled as if involved in some sort of Rockette-style dance.
Pop. Pleep. Pucker. Whip.
No less than 6 strips of paper had sprung from the wall, this in a house with at least one room that damn near took a blow torch to get the wallpaper down. Shit.
“Mama, we don’t say shit.”
“Oh, honey, yes we do. Sometimes we really do.”
My shoulders were slumped and I realized I had no choice but to forge ahead and at least clear off the rest of the wallpaper, hopefully isolating it to the corner in which I’d begun. I filled a bowl with hot water and set about sponging all the paper to loosen it. I shook my head, still in a state of utter disbelief that I had been so foolish after so long. The truth is, I think Sean has been closing to peeling that same piece for a few weeks now, kind of like a scab. Sigh.
The girls delighted in watching me soak the walls and peel off the strips of paper. Briar checked in every so often.
“You fixing it?”
“Yup, I am. Can you say the paper was ugly?”
“Da paper wasn’t ugly.”
“No, honey, the paper was ugly.”
“Honey, the paper was ugly.” She waited for my reaction.
“Perfect! Now say, the paint will be sooo pretty“
“The pink paint will be sooo pretty.”
“Uh-huh, pink. If we gonna make it pretty it’s got to be pink. Yup, yup.”
“Pink. PINK!” Avery concurred.
“Ok, then. Pink.” I chuckled, the wall was looking better and if I want to teach the girls anything it’s that what’s done is done and you just have to move forward.
Think the picture will help soften the blow?