Despite being 50-something, I’ve allowed time and gravity to take their toll on my face. No eyelid surgery, no neck lift, no jawline lift, no Botox, no fillers, no nips or tucks of any kind for me—so far. Instead, I’m giving our home a nest lift. As many of my readers know, Henry and I are converting our son’s room into a den, including a new rug, a convertible sofa bed, and a flat screen TV. I didn’t want to look at a sad and cluttered shrine to Max and his dog, complete with assorted carpet stains left by both of them. (Sparky, Max’s Norwich terrier, died earlier this year. See “For Sparky with Love,” 1/31/14). No, instead of wallowing in nostalgia for the past, I prefer to celebrate the next chapter of my life with Henry. Improving our home is a fun project we can share: re-feathering the empty nest.
In addition to creating a den in Max’s old room, we decided to make some other long overdue improvements, such as purchasing a new dining table and chairs. (Our current dining room set is falling apart after almost 25 years of hard service.) After starting the re-feathering project, Henry and I stumbled upon new living room chairs that we both decided we had to have. Of course when all the elegant and colorful furniture finally arrives, we’ll need some new lighting. Every lighting fixture in our apartment is a quarter century old; most of them have been repaired more than once. Uh-oh, the bills are starting to add up to the cost of a good plastic surgeon. . . but isn’t redecorating so much more FUN than a face lift? Besides, it’s a better investment. Unlike a face lift, our furniture will probably look sleek and lovely a lot longer than my post-menopausal skin. If “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I’d rather be the one beholding, and enjoy the beauty around me instead of trying to live up to some impossible ideal of youth in an effort to please others.
Not that nest refurbishing is all beauty and fun. No, the first and most necessary step in nest rehab is a paint job. UGH!! To make the experience more palatable (and less inconvenient), we skip painting our bedroom and our daughter Sarah’s bedroom, allowing us to move art, furniture and assorted odds and ends from the rooms being painted to the “undisturbed” rooms. This decision spared me from hours of bubble wrapping our-beautiful-but-seemingly-endless-collection of family photos and packing them in cardboard boxes. Also, we have a sanctuary from paint fumes and dust (at least while we sleep and shower). The worst part about the paint job is being exiled from my desk. How can I write my blog on my computer and handle the details of our family’s daily life? It’s only temporary, I tell myself. Three days of paint-spattered guys with pony tails invading my space is not the end of the world, right? Refurbishing is kind of like diet and exercise—no pain, no gain.
Of course, once the painting begins, there’s no turning back. My furniture is piled—some of it upside down—in the center of my living room. My walls are naked, stripped of art and photos. Worst of all, my desk and bookcase are swathed in plastic. Ditto the kitchen. Clearly, we are well past the point of no return. Everything has been shuffled around the nest, stowed in our storage bin, donated to the Salvation Army or thrown away. I’m afraid I may never find half the stuff I tucked here and there. Damn, this paint job is turning into hide and seek.
“Where are you, phone charger?” I beseech the empty nest to cough up its treasures.
I decide to leave before choking on paint dust or tripping over a drop cloth.
A friend has offered me sanctuary for a few hours this afternoon, including the use of a laptop so I can finish my blog. (Thankfully, she also has a compatible phone charger, so I will not be left incommunicado). Is this a mini-taste of how Napoleon felt when he was exiled to Elba? (One of the painters actually admitted that HE would prefer ME to leave!) Of course I don’t take it personally, (even if it is MY home). I don’t want to get in their way (even if they‘re getting in mine). Now that I’m closed out of most of my apartment, I wonder if this is how our beloved Sparky felt when we ate dinner and locked him in a bedroom, so he wouldn’t pester us for scraps. Speaking of dinners, the good news is that Henry and I will have to eat at a restaurant at least one extra night this week. After hours organizing and moving paintings, furniture, and 23 years of this-and-that, I’m delighted that somebody else will serve me dinner and handle the clean-up afterwards.
By the time I post this blog, hopefully the worst of the paint job will be behind me and some—if not all—of my worldly possessions will be retrieved and returned to their original locations. (OK, I can always hope, can’t I?) Honestly, I’m SO looking forward to enjoying the clean, fresh “skin” on my apartment walls. Already, I’m in LOVE with my “key lime green” bathroom. The painter confessed that he “hated the color” when he opened the can, but “loves it now that he sees it on the walls.” (My walls!) “It really DOES brighten things up,” he acknowledged.
What the painter doesn’t know is that I wanted to keep the bathroom green because it’s Sarah’s favorite color, and I know she will love the cheerful shade. When the paint dries, I’ll explain that key lime pie is a delicious dessert. That will definitely make my daughter smile, which will then make me smile….
“Thank you.” I grin at the painter, showing him all my teeth. He’ll be gone soon, hopefully tomorrow or the next day. And then it’s time to shop for new towels. Lavender, maybe? Or perhaps melon? Color is an anti-depressant and key to my strategy in empty nest lifting. Will I enjoy the results as much I had hoped? Stay tuned . . .