Lately, I've been in the mood to lighten up.
That mood creeps up on me with inordinate frequency, an inexplicable urge to giggle at something otherwise terrible or disgusting. I'm not sure if it's an Irish thing or just some weird, psychological inability to deal with trauma in a normal way. I do know that even on the very day when shit went down with little Zachary, I was wandering around the radiology floor on Kevin's arm, laughing at something silly. (For the record, Kevin was laughing too, and he's my barometer for what behavior is within the limits of social and societal normalcy, I figured it was okay. If a Catholic-bred son of a Marine Corps colonel can do it, I can do it.)
Anyway, this particular recent urge to "lighten up" has been related more to my physical appearance and my house than to my actual mood (although I suppose "mood" is probably intertwined with that somehow).
Let's start with the hair. Mine has been about this length for year and years, give or take a few inches:
Heavy, boring, blah. Guys like to brush it off your face, and kids like to touch it with their snotty swine-flu-infested fingers, but otherwise it's pretty useless. The past few weeks, I was in the mood to lighten up that part of myself. Low and behold, the perfect opportunity came up over the weekend, when I was invited to a "haircut brunch" at a friend's house. I was skeptical at first, because it sounded like one of those things that housewives do, like hosting a Tupperware party or a jewelry exchange. Not that there's anything wrong with either of those events - just not my cup of tea.
But I sucked it up and went because I knew the people there would be cool, and because - after all- this was a chance to lighten up.
A "haircut brunch" goes like this, in case you aren't sure:
Some peeps get together for brunch, and one of the gals at the brunch is supposedly a professional hair cutter, and you don't have any proof of this but you take her word for it, and you sit in a chair while scarfing down pieces of fried bacon, and she goes snip-snip-snip directly onto your dry (and in my case, several-days-unwashed) hair, and lots and lots of your hair falls straight onto the living room floor, and everybody laughs and says you look great, and you nervously ask for more bacon and pray that you aren't going to walk out of that house looking like Sinead O'Connor.
But you don't end up looking like that. You end up looking like this:
And you walk out of there feeling all layered and choppy and sassy, with the cool autumn breeze on the nape of your neck and a bellyful of bacon, and your husband touches it right away and tells you how good you look. And then you beam proudly - because in the end it's still those immediate reactions that matter most - and give him a kiss, flip your head upside-down and flip it back up just to give it some extra volume, and say a quick "thanks" to the Great Being Above that you live in a contemporary society in which women can get haircuts like this at their every whim and not be viewed as some kind of rebel-prostitute-freak.
* * *
Next, lightening up of the house. There's only so much you can do with a tiny house in the city. And one of those things is: paint.
Sometime while biking through Eastern Europe last summer with all those drab post-Communist buildings whizzing by, I felt suddenly inspired to paint everything in the house a dark marigold-yellow color. I want bold, exotic, international, exciting! I told Kevin over a dinner of hot beef gristle and 9% alcohol beer. Bright, goldspun yellow the color of an Indian spice market! He had his doubts, but - that being...oh, about a year after Zach's death - I found myself still position to legitimately pull the dead-baby-momma-gets-whatever-dead-baby-momma-wants card.
"Okay," he said, "but that's all you."
So in a caffeine-induced frenzy, the walls got painted soon after our return:
Well, over the past two weeks I began to feel weighed down by that bold marigold-yellow. I know, I know; I only threw that paint up there a year ago, and really it should have a chance to sit there on the walls, fester a bit longer and enjoy itself. But once I got it in my head that I was sick of the color, there was no stopping me. In fact, it wasn't just the yellow I was tired of: I was done with colored walls of any sort. Time to return to something more...um...virginal.
"Let's switch over to white," I told Kevin. Plain old, ho-hum white trim with slightly off-white walls. We need to lighten the whole house up."
I wanted to feel like I was floating up into a cloud of lightness inside this house. Kevin did cast me the glance of "here we go again," but refrained from making some typically rational comment about how we "can't keep repainting every wall year after year" as I half expected he would. I think that's because this new painting endeavor happened to coincide perfectly with an existing plan, which was to:
1) "lighten up" our hardwood floors by getting them refinished
2) "lighten up" our furnishings by replacing old/clunky with new/slim
3) get rid of our kitchen table and replace it with a small bistro set
So, adding a bit of painting to all that didn't seem like such a big deal, I guess. Yippeee! So, within a few weeks, our house got as light as my new hair-do:
I know, it's so...um....white! So Ikea! So metrosexual condominium! But having that marigold yellow gone like five inches of heavy brown hair is, in fact, like a great superficial weight off my shoulders.
Phase two in Operation Lighten Up: the paunch belly and rapidly increasing thigh-diameter. That's a whole new beast of a phase, though. If only I didn't love food so very, very, very much...