Whitewashing

Painting the front porch is an annual practice.
A whitewashing.

Dip the brush into the tray. Apply the paint. Slow even strokes. Slow even breaths. Watch the grays and greens fade into white. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Thoughts come. Memories.
This porch was built by a local craftsman.
We knew him from the neighborhood.
He smoked too many cigarettes, and spoke broken English
which amused my kids to no end.
He would drive by the house almost every day,
and if he saw me sitting on the stoop,
he would beep and wave.
He’s been gone for a few years now.

Dip the brush into the tray. Apply the paint. Slow even strokes. Slow even breaths. Watch the grays and greens fade into white. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Thoughts come. Memories.
Our two young nieces came to visit on the day I painted this porch for the first time.
We told them not to walk on the stairs.
As they were leaving we walked them out to their car.
We noticed little white footprints from the stairs to the sidewalk.
Did you walk on the steps?
No.
Are you sure?
Yes, I’m sure. I think it was some other little kid. Yes, it was definitely some other kids. I saw them. They went that way!

Dip the brush into the tray. Apply the paint. Slow even strokes. Slow even breaths. Watch the grays and greens fade into white. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Thoughts come. Memories.
Actual events and photos of the events.
Us, dressed in our party clothes for a friend’s wedding,
our children on the first day of pre-school, in costumes on Halloween: cat, princess, vampire, clown.
In snow gear, and rain gear, and prom dresses, with best friends and used-to-be friends, and boyfriends.
On the first day of college.

Dip the brush into the tray. Apply the paint. Slow even strokes. Slow even breaths. Watch the grays and greens fade into white. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Thoughts come. Memories.
Family and friends who have stood on this spot,
ringing the bell, knocking, calling ‘Anybody home?’ through the screen door.
Smiling faces saying ‘Surprise!’
So many hello hugs.
Long lingering goodbyes on warm summer nights, and me standing on the top step, watching as they slowly walked to their cars,
wanting to continue the long conversation,
not knowing that it would be the last time I saw him.

Dip the brush into the tray. Apply the paint. Slow even strokes. Slow even breaths. Watch the grays and greens fade into white. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Thoughts come. They continue to come.
But I stop holding them.
I let them come and I let them go.
I dip the brush into the tray.
I lift it and I lower it.
What was gray is white.
What was dirty is clean.
What was timeworn is like new again.
I move slowly. I breathe deeply.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Whitewashing.
Painting the front porch is a practice.

……

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