The smell of the new house reminds me of the hours I spent sanding, standing and varnishing my first desk. My young arms ached from the repetitive motion, and my eyes watered from the pungent aroma. During the sanding process, little clouds of dust would float into my face and if I wasn’t paying attention I would forget to breath with my mouth and end up coughing deep hacking coughs to clear out my lungs. I can still feel the tickle as the dust particles would land on my top lip, my nose, and my eyelids and lashes if they were stealthy enough to get past my glasses.
The colors of the fresh wood pop, like fresh flowers and sunsets. The varnish enhances the yellows in the pine, deepens the reds in the cherry. The sheen shimmers and invites the hands to skim the silky surfaces. As I draw closer, inspecting the newly installed cabinets, I can see my reflection, blurry and non-descript, like a memory just out of reach, or a camera over exposed or too far out of focus.
The half empty cans sit in the hallway, waiting to be disposed of, or used in another project. The paintbrushes are stiff, a sure indication that the washing process was more effort than the laborer realized. It will take discipline, effort and patience to allow those brushes to bring light and color to anything new.