LISTENING TO A DISRESPECTFUL INNER CHILD

This one was written about 15 years ago. When I wrote it, I promised myself I would never do it again, but who knew I would live this long?

Trouble is, I’m in the throes of home re-decorating. The project keeps me pre-occupied and turns me into a raging bore. Unless you want to discuss track lighting or the advantages of berber carpet over plush, don’t talk to me.

Between the newspaper and my grandchildren, I don’t have a lot of time to devote to the re-do of the “flat house.” My grandson, accustomed as he is to the tall village houses of Granville, christened my new abode the “flat house,” and the name kind of stuck. It’s really a 60s ranch on a lot of flat land. The lady who lived here before me left the house in perfect, spic and span condition. That was 10 months ago; sadly, the same cannot be said of its condition as of even date. It’s now strewn with paint chips, ladders, uninstalled fixtures, and the remains of a life put on hold while the place is re-done.

The how-to books say you’re best off sitting in a house for at least a year before you jump into redecorating. Although not quite a year, I mulled it over as long as I thought necessary before I climbed the ladder and starting stripping wallpaper.

During the mulling time, I noticed that the previous owner had everything set up for low maintenance. The whole place is carpeted, even the kitchen and bathrooms, in a color that doesn’t show dirt. The walls are off-white and the woodwork is non-paneled and natural.

There’s an industrial strength air filter. It’s the only house I ever lived in that won’t get dirty. One can clutter it up to a faretheewell, but it will stay dust-free no matter what. So, my primary dilemma was this: do I want to pull up and replace ugly-color-but-non-dirt-showing carpet and cover the plain-jane-but-disappearing walls with fragile wallpaper? Why do I want to make work for myself? What’s wrong with me?

I spent the entire month of January while I was sick with bronchitis thinking about it. By February I knew what I had to do. The ultra conservative decoration had to go. It just wasn’t any fun. My Inner Child was screaming at me the entire time. It’s her fault that I don’t seem to be able to do anything unless she thinks it’s fun. The blandness of our new surroundings is anything but.
Cautiously pulling up a corner of the ugly carpet I found, to my surprise, genuine oak parquet flooring. Pulling it up in one of the bathrooms, I found lovely white tile.

“We’re having some fun now,” shouted Inner Child at the discovery.
My fear-of-upkeep protestations caused her to pout and chide me, “Just as I suspected. You’re a closet conservative!”

To appease her, I started stripping the patternless beige wallpaper in the foyer and hallway. The house was built in 1965 and the paper has been there since. There’s bare wallboard underneath. “Probably would have lasted another 35 years,” I grumbled to Inner Child.

She ignored me.

Now, after six weeks, the hall and foyer walls are finished. I told you I can’t spend all my time on it. Where once there was forgettable but easy-care wallpaper, there is now pewter and bronze-sponged green paint. At the ceiling line there is a border of my favorite flower, the Iris (Tennessee’s state flower), done in green, salmon, and metallic trim.

This week I hope to get around to removing the carpet and refinishing the parquet flooring. Maybe I’ll even stain it to match the reddish woodwork.
There’s one difficulty I might have to deal with. Inner Child is easily bored. She’s already accusing me of taking too long to finish the job.

“Do you plan to make this hallway your life’s work? We’ve a whole house to redecorate. Get on with it!”

Now, she’s pestering me about lingering over this column. She says it stopped being fun three paragraphs back. Guess I’d better end it and move on to something else.

When Freud discovered our Inner Children, I wish he had figured out a way to shut them up.

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