Our boy Mike was here for supper last night. I made Moroccan Lamb Stew and a nutty rice and Roasted Beet and Apricot Salad for both him and his sister Annie, who came over with her five-pounds-of-sugar-brand-new baby.
Your kids don’t like it when you change your house around, especially if they no longer live with you and yes I remember feeling that way too, about my mother and aunt’s house where I lived in from age nine on. I went back there as a young adult and was horrified by what they had done: What was this awful new wallpaper in the front bedroom where our mom always installed us kids when we were sick? What I loved was the OLD paper, the pink roses on that lurid yellow background that made me feel like my fevers were tipping into pleasant hallucination.
So I saw that son of mine; I knew just what he was doing patrolling the downstairs, his hands in the pockets and smiling faintly.
He passed through the kitchen, whose wallpaper we took off two years ago. Here is the old kitchen and the son in question, working in it a couple of Christmases ago.
The other night he cruised slowly past the two newly upholstered chairs in the living room, chairs that lived in the garage and smelled like two sour washcloths for the 36 months prior to their recent makeover. They’re gorgeous now, to my eyes anyway, both of them done over in a kind of pussy-willow grey.
They’re as gorgeous as the newly reupholstered mini-sofa at that far end of the kitchen that I put up with for the whole ten years it spent worn bald by the fannies of the cats. It too is beauteous now. Beauteous!
But not to him.
“I GUESS I’m getting used to all the changes you’ve made,” he finally said, “only it’s all so kind of …monochromatic now. No more whimsy, no more riot of patterns. The yard is like that too since you guys cut down all those shrubs this past fall.” He said it all looks like the mind of the Ellen Burstyn character after she goes crazy in Requiem for a Dream.
These kid we all have: they’re tough customers – not that my girl Annie said anything. We women stick together.
I do remember asking him back in October about the material I liked for the Lincoln-era love seat in the living room which I have loved ever since I found it in a second-hand furniture shop, bought for $80 and reupholstered it myself. (Horse hair! it was stuffed with! Actual Horse hair!) Now I had my eye on a kind of pale Caribbean blue for it, slightly patterned and textured. I showed Mike the two yard sample I had.
“You realize this is green,” he said when I spread it on the loveseat.
“Green?? This isn’t green!”
“Mum: It’s green.”
I knew he was wrong so I paid no attention . I had the loveseat done over in it – and the minute the fellas from Rudy’s Upholstery walked in the door with it three weeks later I saw my mistake: It didn’t go even a little bit with anything else in the living room, but LUCKY FOR US ALL our bedroom has green in the wallpaper, so that now, instead of having a tidy little table under the window up in that room, we have this giant-seeming piece of furniture, a real, old time I feel-a-faint-coming-on settee upon which I now artfully recline watching episodes of The Knick and Penny Dreadful and pretending I too am a Victorian lady about to get bled, or vivisected, or covered in leeches.
Sigh. I hated it when my mother and aunt were right and I was wrong, And now I have it all over again with my youngest child. but it is what it is. I’m starting to think painting the kitchen was a mistake myself. anyway. Paint has a tendency to chip and nick and get so .. marred.
Another ten years and your dad and I will go back to wallpaper, Mike and you, son, of ours, will be proven right once again, darn ya. 🙂