I’m awoke from sleep by a knock at the front door. It’s the painters. I’m expecting them.
I jump up from the futon, scramble for a bra, and open the door in my PJ’s and Ifro (Irish Afro). The painter is a small dark man, with a cup of dark bodega coffee. He hasn’t brought me any, but I’m still glad to see him. “Come in, come in,” I say. He doesn’t smile, but he’s polite. He starts setting up for the day’s work.
I’ve pushed all the furniture to the center of the room in preparation. I’m excited. It’s been ten years, one divorce, a torn ACL, an empty nest, and a near-death experience since I’ve had the apartment painted. It’s also the first time in years that a man has woke me up in the morning.
When I come home in the evening, the job is only half done. The painter tells me that it will take 3 days to finish. It’s been a long time, he says. It needs two coats. I don’t mind. I like that he’s thorough. I like greeting him in the morning. It’s not romantic. It’s intrinsic. Man as helper and fixer-upper.
Day 3 arrives. I’m sorry to see him go. The place looks amazing. Fresh as a daisy. Clean as a cloud. There’s mess to clean up, but I’m glad I went through the inconvenience. I needed a fresh start.
Being the one to keep the apartment after the divorce turned out to be a curse as well as a blessing. Scene of the crime and all that. The new paint makes me feel like it’s a new beginning. It also makes everything else in the apartment look like shit. Which it is. We pretty much furnished the place with stuff left on the curb, and the curtains are torn, grime-infused ancient Ikea shite. Plus, my ex and I couldn’t agree much on color, among other things.
I figure I might as well spruce the place up while I’m still there, do the most with as little money as possible, and refrain from buying anything I won’t take with me when I go.
First I ditch everything black, and put in beige or cream, with splashes of color, as they say. It suits me better. I play with the space. Ex-marks-the-spot. Anything that gives me a shitty feeling, goes. It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s feeling based. Maybe the spatula stays, but the frying pan doesn’t. Things that give me a bad feeling are replaced by things that give me a good feeling. New dishes that remind me of my granny, whose presence was nurturing, reassuring, turn out to be a great way to renew my outlook on life. Wayfair, West Elm, Etsy, and Target are my allies. While we’re on the subject; Fabindia for cotton throws, and slip covers. Check it out. Some of the new stuff is from the Salvation Army. Out with the old, in with the old, I always say. But it’s new old stuff, nice old stuff, my old stuff. Not ours.
I haven’t spent money on my living space in over 20 years. It feels good.
Yes, it’s a new day for Apt.10A.
The living room is my favorite makeover. There’s a new, cream-colored shag rug that I lay down and roll around on, just for good luck. You have to. It’s so silky smooth. The cotton throws make the sofa, and loveseat look like new. The dining table is bright blue, and metal. No television. That’s what laptops and movie theatres are for.
The room’s best feature is the window, which faces the Hudson River. It affords a largely unobstructed view of sunsets, and city lights. Curtains would only distract from it’s beauty, but with nothing at all, it feels harsh, not homey. I have a brilliant idea; plants! I know it’s not brilliant, but it’s new for me, and I’m feeling inspired. I go to the florist, and pick out 2 hanging plants, and look for a third to go on the window cill. I nose around unsuccessfully, then spot something hiding under a settee.
It’s called a prayer plant. I like the idea. I like the leaves. I’m sold.
I bring the plants home. The reality lives up to the concept. The window looks adorned, but not overwhelmed. The room feels like a vacation retreat, a sanctuary. It’s perfect.
The next day, I come home to find the prayer plant drooping pathetically. I don’t know why. I’ve followed the instructions. It’s only been a day. How could I have possibly gone wrong in so short a time? I google. I fret. I don’t find answers. I really don’t want this plant to die. It’s symbolic. My fresh start. My new beginning. Killing the prayer plant would be a bad omen, somehow.
I notice it’s happier in the morning, after a long sleep. I can relate. I put it in the coat closet when I go to work. It seems to like that. When I get home in the evening, it’s still standing proud.
It kind of makes sense.
The prayer plant.
It needs isolation, introspection. I can relate.
I can make this work. It’s going to be okay.
Yes, it’s a new day for Apt.10A.