Sunday, August 9, 2009


Maybe it's the fumes. Maybe I'm getting philosophical in my old age. Or maybe I've just been painting for so many consecutive days that it's all I can think about. As I was washing out my paintbrush yesterday it occurred to me that my paintbrush says a lot about me.

I have used the same paintbrush ever since we moved here. Before that, I had the exact same paintbrush in my other house. It's not an accident that I have always used the same brush. I found one years ago that I liked. I'm extremely picky about them, being the demanding painter that I am. I use them literally until they are falling apart.

The first version of my paintbrush served many purposes. We bought it shortly after purchasing the condo, and with it we declared our independence. We, for the first time, could mark our own territory. We owned something, and if we wanted to paint the walls every color in the rainbow we could. And we came pretty close. At one point, my brother referred to the condo as a giant Easter egg because of all the colors we had in it. After some time, we toned the color scheme down. We grew up, and our walls did too.

We bought our first house, and the brush came along. It worked hard in that house, since that house was a constant work in progress. By the time we left, I had painted every single square inch of wall there, most of the ceilings and the patio cover. Some more than once. It has also painted an entire bedroom set, the old dresser I had in my room as a kid that Ashley inherited and the rocking chair my mom used when I was born. By then the brush was done. It had painted it's last stroke. And when we decided to move, I finally said goodbye to my first brush.

I find it strangely fitting that I left that brush behind, though a part of me will always wish that I had kept it. For posterity, if not to ever use it again. It represented one phase of my life, and the shiny, clean brush waiting for me in Colorado represented a new one. A new beginning.

Over the years, this brush , my second one, has helped me with a lot. It has helped me cope with moving cross country. It has given me solitude and a sense of purpose. It has helped me take the blank canvas of a tract house and transform it into my home. It has allowed me to let my son express his personality in his room, and it has done that more than once. It has given me the means by which to create a peaceful retreat in my room. It has helped me prepare for the birth of my last baby.

This paintbrush has not just been a tool for positive change and transformation. It has allowed me to make mistakes. Many mistakes. And it has allowed me to fix them. There have been times that I needed that sense of redemption in my life. That sense of completion and finality to a project. The ability to repair damage. To most people, they would see it as a dirty old paintbrush. It's more than that to me. Much more. It has provided a strange source of comfort in my world.

If this paintbrush could tell you stories, it would. Every color on it means something. And I will keep using this paintbrush until it can give no more. Until it is time for a new phase. Only then will I go shopping for that third brush. I won't be looking for long, I already I know which one I will need.

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