Friday, August 01, 2003

I opened up a can of worms yesterday. Or to put it more accurately, peeled the lid back.

I was cleaning my bedroom, and once again started picking at the cracked paint on one of the walls. This wasn't an ordinary peel, but a good foot by two foot crack that had buckled under years and layers of paint. I've been picking at it, trying to see the original wallpaper from the turn of the century, that is, the one before the turn of this last century. Finally, I gave in, and removed the plank of paint to expose a pretty sage colored wallpaper with white flowers.

Okay, now I'd done it. The urge to see this wall naked as it once was overcame me and I peeled piece after piece off the wall. The task was amazingly easy, and tore off like paper with little to no residue left. It was as if the room wanted to breathe, and was ready to shed its cumbersome layers.

The paint, which felt more like thin cardboard, could be removed by hand. This "paintboard" consisted of several layers of paint, and a couple different sheets of wallpaper, one that I could tell was an awful fifties design. Whomever decided to paper the walls in the past didn't bother removing the original. Same goes for the paint jobs.

After three hours, I was looking at over half the wall uncovered. I'd even walked downstairs to retrieve a ladder to get the high parts. I'm going to need an even taller one, with my ceilings being 14 feet high. But I was able to get high enough to see what this room could have looked like 100 years ago.

There was something about doing this task that felt right. I was giving this old grand room the respect and attention that it deserves. It was as if it wanted to be stripped, and with a cracked plank it beckoned a tenant that it knew was curious and liked to work with her hands.

The wallpaper warms the room up considerably, but unfortunately is in no condition to save. I am enjoying it now while I can, but the walls will need to have cracks repaired, sanded down, and painted. I'll probably have a professional eye the walls and paint the room. Then again, perhaps I'll do it. Paint, that is.

Again, I'm just a renter. The work I'm doing will in no way benefit me except for the cathartic exercise that it is providing. And cathartic it has been. I equate this task with the same one that I'm taking on with myself, peeling back the layers to reveal well, Anne. Whomever she is, the artist, writer, thinker, and even the girl who gets melancholy from time to time. The unique chemistry that makes up me.

I spent too many years putting on those layers, hoping that some astute and willing person would see behind them and do the work for me. To yank me out of my calcifying shell and say, "Hey, I know you really are so much more! Let me show you the way!" And like the careless workers who had papered and painted the room, I didn't bother to peel the old layers off either, I just slapped up a new one, as it was quicker and easier. For a while, it looked good and held up. But eventually, those layers got heavy and started to crack. So I'm peeling them off. And it takes work.

But I'm willing to walk naked.

To not be so serious, to roll with the blues, knowing they will pass. To write, to draw. To show off. To regain laughter. To move with the body that God gave to me. To stop focusing so much on time as if I'm racing against it. To be natural and at peace with who I am. When I can't sleep at night to know that eventually sleep will come. When I can't write to sit down and do it anyway. To use my hands more. To feel, touch, smell, and hear as much as I can. To express. To live. To allow others to be closer to me.

Most important, to stay visible. Even when I realize that I am naked.

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