Painting the House
I’ve never run a marathon and probably never will. I get that it’s a thing some people do, but I’m not one of them. I don’t even know why we’re having this discussion.
Only that being a marathon runner requires, I imagine, the same diligence as painting the exterior of one’s house by hand — one’s two story house with five gable ends and two dormers, meaning much trim, soffit, and fascia, along with walls, of course, belly bands, window and door trim, and decorative shingles.
I bring this up because I spent much of this past June painting the outside of our house, the one I’ve just described. Nearly every day was get up, get dressed, drink tea, eat breakfast, prepare myself for the cold (it was June but also Montana) leave my friends’ house and go to ours (because we don’t live in it anymore and were just there to do the work), and paint for the day, ideally 10–4. My husband would start earlier, but I don’t do things I hate before 10am. (I just made that up, but it sounds like a good rule.)
Just paint the house, that’s what I’d tell myself. White here, gray there. Just paint the house.
One morning I carried a six foot ladder up an extension ladder to the roof over the back porch. Then I laid the six foot ladder down atop another section of steeper roof that runs between the gable end of the original house (built 1920) and a dormer of the addition (built 2006). The ladder was supported by a 2x6 toe board my husband had secured to the roof for this purpose. With my brush and paint bucket, I climbed up the collapsed ladder, climbed as horizontally as I was vertically, sat down on the highest rung. A wasp’s nest hung from the soffit beside my left shoulder. One stood sentry outside it, wary of my presence.
“Please don’t sting me,” I said. “Please don’t sting me.”
I painted around the wasp and its nest, leaving a white circle amidst the fresh gray.
Day after day, up ladders and down, white paint and gray paint, scraping old paint and slopping on new.
Just paint the house.
Just paint the house.
The same process as for running a marathon — again, I’m imagining — painting the house but with your legs.
Writing’s the same. It’s just painting the house.
So many things are.