Friday, April 14, 2017

The Blue that shows through

You have to spray away the muck when you can. This morning I washed the car on my way into the office. I pulled under the white and blue painted concrete and lifted the nozzle to spray away all the grime of the past weeks. Mountain cars get a special level of dirty and return quickly to that state.
And yet.

As I sprayed away the grime, I saw the flaws it filled in for. The dirt was over the nicks and marks of rocks that have chipped away at the burgundy paint. A scrape here or there from where the kids dragged a stick along the side body, suddenly glares in the sun, freshly exposed. One of the fog light covers, a perfect sphere, without the mud, its cracks scatter the promise of clarity.

I rest the muscles of my hand for a moment, releasing the grip on the hose, considering whether I could repaint the car myself this summer. Nevermind the many more pressing chores on my list of things I won't get done, I wonder about this one. I could paint the car. A vision of papered over windows and carefully taped pieces flits and I imagine spraying paint, renewing the car's exterior. I imagine us as those people who can keep things nice. The ones who take on projects and keep their yards free of clutter, the ones who refinish furniture and keep annotated baby books. At times I regret how we can't be those people who meticulously care for things, keeping organized stacks and shelves, de-cluttered counters and clean shower stalls. We have a light bulb that's covered by a sarong for one of our light fixtures. We just aren't that.

I think of a woman who lived next door to us when I was a kid. She rented the house with her 3 kids who were often dirty. I don't remember her name. I don't know why I remember her wearing jean shorts. I remember her Gremlin changing colors though. One day it was blue and then she came outside in her jean-shorts and taped paper over the windshield and passenger windows, followed by the rear and driver's sides. She taped the wheels and then had a small handheld sprayer she used to paint the car white.

I think of white trash when I think of her, even though her kids were among my favorite in history to play with. We had a staple gun fight in the basement, followed by throwing matches we struck against the box at one another. Her daughter taught me about makeup and hairstyles and we watched MTV for hours. Her name was Cassandra and she knew dangerous things like how to throw a shawl of hair over your shoulder and disregard being called sharp words like "slut."

I watched their mom repaint that car and invented a boyfriend she was hiding out from. They'd run away from him and he'd never know it was them because she'd made the car white instead of blue. I always watched that car when she'd pull in at the end of the day and wondered if I really saw, or only remembered the blue showing through that white Gremlin's exterior.

I think of this as squeeze the handle and go back to spraying away the grime of our lives half-assedly. I won't paint the car. But maybe I'll get a new windshield. Maybe I'll look out through an unpitted, new windshield, and lie to myself about the cleanliness of our view.