We leave footprints in the strangest of ways.
Years ago--probably like fifty or so--it seems that the style of the day was to take whatever beautiful hardwood flooring that may be lining one's house and plaster carpeting over every last square inch.
What were they thinking?
I see it all the time. People I know are continuously amazed that floors which had turned old enough for a new carpet, upon removal, discover that they have gorgeous hardwood floors. They just have to scrape and sand the damn things for a seemingly endless amount of time to get them to to a useful state.
But forty years ago it was the thing to do. Cover it up, cover it up, don't let anyone see that you have to walk on wood! Show the world that you live a cosmopolitan and comfortable existence with some gaudy, brown, nylon-based carpeting.
I suppose it was all the rage.
And the same goes for wallpaper, which now seems to be on the outs in favor of paint. And, from plain, eggshell or white painted walls we have now become accustomed to darker, earthier tones. Sepias, red clay, parsley, mocha, and other Southwestern shades have made their way to the forefront of graceful living quarters everywhere. It seems like a good idea, and a natural progression of the tastes and preferences of this generation.
But so didn't laying down cobalt-blue wall-to-wall in the Fifties.
And this is how we leave our mark on our space in the world--this temporary, fleeting, tender, temperamental, seemingly random existence we all must adapt to.
We leave our fingerprints on the glass.
We leave our footprints in the clay.
We leave our trappings in the landfill.
And we leave our paint on the walls.
These walls will hold me for what I hope will be a long life (keeping in mind that nobody in my immediate family has made it out of their sixties). And right now I have just put a good friend/bandmate to work painting four of my rooms. It's a moonlighting gig for him, but it's good money, for good work, for a good guy (if I may). And the colors I picked out (with the help from Jill, my amazing interior designer) are ones that are pleasing to me.
The bedroom is a reddish-brown, to give me some grounding.
The downstairs half-bath is light blue which gives it some light, levity, and the feeling of a brief and necessary escape from any number of social activities, without offering the option of full commitment to something as complicated as a shower or a shave.
The office will be another earthy toned gray with blue overtones to help me think and create.
And the living room will be a parsley-green, to facilitate the enjoyment of a good movie, an engrossing book, a deliciously mischievous hearth-fire, or a late night record-playing binge, all without taking over anyone's attention. The job of walls are to stand up, not to stand out.
But very few things are timeless. And certainly we, as humans, do not classify either, due to our inherent limitations. But we put what we like around us as a force of habit. We cover ourselves with clothes and accessories which we feel both represent us in our outward appearance as well giving us a sense of place. When you go to Santa Fe you see a bit more turquoise than you do in Boston. It's kind of nice. It reassures us that things are as they seem. It makes sense.
And that's why I'm enjoying this act of territorial redecorating. I own this place. These walls are my walls now. They may have been put up in 1875 with horsehair plaster that was more than likely mixed in a metal pot. They were most definitely put up by someone who--however well intentioned--is long gone to somewhere there may or may not be walls. But today, they are being attended to by me, in my generation, with my style, my taste, my intentions, and my budget. They are becoming a footprint of the way I am living my life. The colors on the wide and tall walls interact with the retinas of my eyes and make me feel a wide range of emotions both recognized and subconscious. And I wonder if, in a hundred years from now, someone will be laying down solar-ceramic-interactive tile over these beautiful wide-plank pine floorboards and wondering how anyone could have ever lived like that--with all the knots and grain showing everywhere. Maybe they will be tearing down the walls to put up some kind of weird futuristic 3-D backdrop that changes colors to match your mood, and they'll pick up a piece of plaster with the reddish-brown paint color my bedroom is now, and have a hard time trying to picture what it must have been like to have to live with four walls that just stayed the same color ... until you changed it with a can of paint, a brush, and a roller.
And they'll suppose it was all the rage.
The walls get painted the colors of the times.
Not so much to tell a story as to write one day after day.
And as long as we still speak the same language--however restless it may be--we won't need to use italics to show emphasis, we won't need to use arrows to show direction, and we won't need to raise our voices to make a point.
You'll just get it in context.
Or you'll just scratch your head and stare at the walls and wonder.
What were they thinking?
Thanks for reading.