I'm calling this photo DK36. That's the name of the paint by Donald Kaufman that I have used in my living room; it changes all day with the northern light, sometimes more mauve or lavender, sometimes more grey. You get a hint of that in this picture, along with ladders and plastic and drop cloths, all reflected in the glass as I shoot out the window.
Next week, next week, the contractor keeps saying. We will be done next week. I am bringing people in to clean up this weekend. He's been saying this since November 1. Next week and next week and next week, creeps in this petty pace from day to day....
Oddly, though this end game is madly frustrating, the delay has given me time to reflect on the process of making a new home at this stage of life. I could write a book on the subject. The uncertainty about whether or not I could pull this off, yet again. The bother, how many years left do I have, anyway? The exhaustion, in anticipation, of yet another project. The worry about picking colors, tiles, floors, lighting. The consideration of a lifetime of habits of living; which did I want to stop? Which can I never end?
And the pleasure, the profound pleasure, of setting out on this creative adventure. Every time the rising tides of climate change felt too depressing to contemplate, I could glance at the rising pile of tiles I was considering. A welcome reprieve.
But for now: I love my new building. I feel as if I am moving into a grand dormitory. I love the smells coming out of neighbors' kitchens, curry, roast chicken; strangely intimate, to know what strangers will be having for dinner. And I love the sounds, too: string trios and horns and operatic voices. And I love the neighborhood. I'm discovering an entirely unknown-to-me part of New York; thanks to an invitation from the marvelous writers Laura Jacobs and Jim Wolcott, I stepped off the subway one day two summers ago, and feel in love with Washington Heights. The feel of an older Broadway, the scale of lower buildings with the kind of fanciful ornamentation that architects today ignore. The breezes coming off the Hudson; the proximity, an easy walk, to the Cloisters, one of my favorite New York landmarks.
And the absolutely grounding joy of my own home, once again, to do with what I please.
Next week, next week. I wander from room to room, after the electricians and painters and plumbers have gone home (or not arrived), peeking under the plastic, gazing out the windows, imagining where my Chinese table will go, or how I will get rid of even more books once I've filled every new bookcase (in the dining room, bedrooms, kitchen). I cannot wait to unpack. And settle down. To live with my decorating decisions--is that kitchen floor a little too unusual? Was that entry color too bold? I will see what was a mistake, what was a triumph. And I will love it all. I've been dreaming my way home for a long time now.