Unfinished Business

All business is unfinished, really. Life goes on and reveals things. What is this word “closure” all about? You think it must have to do with coming to peace, closing a chapter, finally painting the wall that has tolerated splotches of mango and yellow and a child’s scribbles for years now. Taking things into your own hands, drop-cloths and rollers and good music and the meditation of a satisfying second coat. And deciding what you want your hands to be covered in, holding–resentment and worry, or fingernails blue with the power of finally digging out an old can of paint from the basement after weeks, months, years of perusing a gazillion colors at the hardware store, unable to choose, decide, envision, commit. The act of doing something, picking one single wall to finish. To sip coffee while the paint dries, to watch the color in the changing light of these cinched-up days. To realize there are things you can do alone, that you once would’ve waited for someone else to help with or hired out. And to see the things you can’t and go next door to borrow a ladder from your neighbor, hoping not to kill yourself as you edge toward the upper reaches of the tallest wall, but figuring it would be a good way to die, finishing this business, closing this one chapter. You wonder if you will go after the trim later, or just let it stay, smeared and smudged with all the life that flows in and out of this house. The wall is a metaphor, the paint and the brushes too, the basement and the color chips infused with memory, potential, ideas, misgivings. And the wall is a wall. It was an experiment long ago, that bright mango. And now it is blue. Just like that. You just reached that point of being ready, done thinking about it, waiting, letting it take up room in your head and on that revolving to-do list that sometimes snakes its way into your dream life.

You began writing this post several hours ago and return now while the second coat of “healing aloe” dries on the walls upstairs. There will still be a large unfinished portion of the wall–where you’ll put a version of these words–until the day when you have both an extension ladder and a spotter. Could be weeks, or months. No matter–for now, you will spend the remainder of today’s daylight painting. The edges are messy and there are smatterings of color on the ceilings, the rugs. These are nothing compared to the nourishment of doing this yourself, spending a whole weekend burrowing into your nest, taking small breaks to step outside into the mild November day to look at the willow, how it holds onto its leaves for so long after the oaks, maples, and poplars are bare, to listen to the tiny wind chime and distant sounds of other people’s children playing in the woods. You remember a quote you once read: “Perfection is the enemy of completion,” and realize you’re content to forgo both in favor of paint-dripped yoga pants and gypsy wraps, hours of solitude, brush strokes, and why-bother-showering, blue tape and clean walls, bills waiting to be paid, yard still needs mowing, there’s always unfinished business. But you’re done looking for closure. All you need now is to be at peace with how far you’ve come.

5 comments

  1. That was so beautifully written……. unfinished business, closure….. my marriage broke down very messily nearly 2 years ago…….. I now do all the jobs around the house, and yes, with each job ticked off, not closure, but satisfaction of what I can do, and then the next job shines through………

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