No Offence

white picket fence painting

Whenever I’m bemoaning an upcoming weekend that will be spent repainting a room, I inevitably bump into some people who claim to love painting. These people are not to be trusted.

They’re either stupid, or they’re lying.

Or, I suppose, they could love the idea of painting, and they don’t remember the painstaking prep work — the cleaning, the taping, the caulking, the drop-cloth-ing — or, when brush finally meets color, all the cutting in, the inevitable splattering or, in the case of white paint (of which there are exactly 7,339,842 shades), the game of trying to determine which white is old, which white is new and which white is new but just looks different because it’s still wet.

You could say I’m not a fan of painting.

Except when I am.

Take a look at this photo:

white picket fence painting

This is part of our back yard. I built the dog-eared 4-foot picket fence circa 2004. And looking at that image immediately answers why we decided to paint the fence. But it raises the question of why we waited 11 years to do it.

I mostly answered that already. See paragraph three. But also, our tiny, quarter-acre lot has about 17 linear miles of this fence. Because, dogs.

So the fence languished in “natural” state, including, in places, green spray painted numbers on the lumber from the home-improvement store, for all this time, until we finally bucked up and started painting it this spring. We’re about halfway done. If it’s a pretty weekend, we’ll knock out a few more sections Saturday or Sunday.

And, here’s the Shyamalan twist: I’m loving it.

Sure, it’s incredibly time consuming. I’m taking the sections off individually, repairing boards here and there, replacing nails with screws, cleaning off algae, and re-grading the land a bit before even putting down the first of three coats of fence paint.

But every screw driven and every shovel of sod moved feels like healing. It feels like turning a ramshackle johnboat into a battleship that can weather Hurricane Seamus without cracking.

And the actual painting? Pshaw. There’s no taping, no cutting in, no frantically wiping a bloop of paint off a hardwood floor. It’s a breeze.

I guess the symbolism is overt. We’re not just making our fence stronger; we’re making it pure, clean, white. Sure, that’s an endorphin buzz. But the actual labor is enjoyable too. It’s just gentle and careful paint strokes. Your mind can wander to the tunes coming out the window from the Sonos.

Or to nothing specific at all.

It’s peaceful. It’s rejuvenating for the spirit as well as the wood. And, so, I guess what I’m trying to do is wind my way to a confession:

My name is Brad, and I love painting.

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