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Living color

Sometime over the past couple of months I decided I didn’t need to hang on to those 48 cans of paint in the basement.

A few were unopened. Others felt about half-full, and others felt as if they contained no more than a quart. I asked a county worker at the place where I take my trash how to dispose of them. He told me to mix cat litter into it until the paint solidified and then just toss it in with the rest of my garbage.

My wife is quite fond of changing the inside of our house, so every room has been painted during the past three years, and there didn’t seem to be much point in keeping half-full gallons with “NW bedroom” or “office 2006” Sharpie-scrawled on the lids. So, can by can, I’ve been mixing cat litter into those forgotten hues, remembering some shades, not remembering others as I pop the tops off.

The easiest one to decide to dispose of was labeled “small bathroom EPIC FAIL.” It was relatively new, dating back to when I painted the small bathroom earlier this year, trying out a color that I must have picked out in my sleep. That attempt lasted about an hour before reason prevailed and a more sensible hue covered the evidence of the latex-based crime.

For other cans in the basement, deciding to get rid of them was simply a matter of looking at the date and opening the can. Paint that’s been shelved for the better part of 10 years looks nothing like the color left on the can rim by the constant wiping of the paintbrush. Usually, a clear substance that looks like water but with the consistency of olive oil makes up the top layer inside the can. Then comes a layer of the primary pigment in the paint. It’s not until you start mixing cat litter into those layers of liquids that the real color emerges.

Tonight I tackled a 10-year-old can of paint from about two paint jobs ago for the bigger of our two bathrooms. The room used to be a minty blue-green. It took the better part of 10 minutes to pry the lid from the can; it was rusted on there pretty good. When I finally peeled the lid back, the paint wasn’t minty blue-green. It was purple. Violet, really, like vivid lilacs.

Isn’t that like life, I thought. We live it in one color, but after the memories settle, they are cast forever in a different hue.

Unless someone or something comes along to pry the lid off.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
sahlah
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)
I love your posts.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
That comment makes my day. Thankyousoverymuch!
createdestiny
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
I like where you took this.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. Usually I start out with an idea and see where it goes. This one, I knew where I wanted to go but didn't know how to get there. Our muses have weird senses of humor sometimes, don't you think?
nodressrehersal
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
Isn’t that like life, I thought. We live it in one color, but after the memories settle, they are cast forever in a different hue.

As is often the case, you've managed to peek inside my head and turn jumbled bits into something marvelous to read. The back-to-back visits with my two brothers and their families has been the fodder for my thoughts.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 5th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC)
I hope things have gone well with you, what with all the company lately. I couldn't handle having all those people in my house; I do not adjust well to change.
nodressrehersal
Jul. 7th, 2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
They're all gone. *heavy sigh* Enough said.
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 8th, 2012 01:49 am (UTC)
Heavy sigh of relief, I hope.
nodressrehersal
Jul. 8th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)
The hugest magnitude of relief, yes.
tanadariel
Jul. 5th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Those last few lines gave me chills. And it's 90 degrees. You write so well, pjv...
patrick_vecchio
Jul. 5th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
Wow. That's a helluva compliment, especially coming from someone I respect so much.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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