The painters come early -- they are hard at work by 8am. I'm not sure how many there are, but I seem to encounter one everywhere I go in the house -- I think they are as startled by the sight of me in my nightgown as I am by their sudden presence on the stairs. They have draped the staircase with veils of plastic, wrapped each doorknob with tape, laid down lurid blue carpets of more plastic in the hallways. The picnic table out back is laden with their paint cans. Everything that used to be on the front porch is now out in the garden.
But a clean beauty now lives in every room they have left behind. 120-year-old ceilings look as they did when they were new. A creamy white called " Pale Straw" covers most of the walls -- the real estate lady said neutral was what we needed, and neutral is what we have. But if this is what neutral is, I'm all for it.
This old house is fast on its way to becoming someone else's. Already the grandchildren's pencilled growth record has been expunged from the doorframe in the kitchen -- sometimes an adult guest would stand up straight against it and make a pencil mark, then write her name beside the mark, blending herself into our history of children growing up. All the evidence is gone now, hidden under two coats of Pale Straw. Already the family photos are packed away. Four more boxes will arrive today, and I will fill them with the books that used to live on the window seat in the upstairs hall. That window seat is a charming feature, she says. You want to show it off.
One would think that I would be awash in nostalgia about leaving this house. Curiously, I am not. I'm excited to be occupying a much smaller space, to put my money where my mouth is about having a smaller footprint on the earth. I'm relieved to be creating a space accessible to the disabled people we will one day be, and to be doing it under our own steam, on our own terms, before circumstances force us to act. I'm happy to think of someone else loving this old place as we have loved it. A house like this one deserves to be inhabited by happy people, people who will use every inch of it. Generations have done so. It is time for another one.
Whoever you are, welcome! Enjoy the beauties you will see every day outside these old windows. Walk barefoot sometimes, and feel old wood floors under your feet. Have winter picnics in front of the fire, summer ones under the dogwood out back. Watch the birds, and don't forget to hang hummingbird feeders. You're going to love it here.
Saturday, April 16th. Quiet Day with Barbara Crafton at St. James, Madison Avenue, NYC. 212-288-4100.
Palm Sunday, April 17th. 8and 10 am St. Luke's, Metuchen. Barbara Crafton is preacher. 732-548-4308
Maundy Thursday, April 20. St. Luke's, Metuchen, 7pm. Liturgy for Maundy Thursday The Passion of Christ in Real Time begins and continues all night. It is not necessary to stay all night-- feel free to come and go as you like.
Good Friday, April 21, St. Luke's,Metuchen: 9-12noon: Neighborhood Stations of the Cross leaves the steps of St Luke's at nine; from 12noon-3pm. The Seven Last Words of Christ, with meditations by Barbara Crafton.
Holy Saturday, April 22, St Barnabas, Ardsley NY. Quiet Day with Barbara Crafton. Call 914-693-3366.
Easter Day, St Luke's, Metuchen NJ. Barbara Crafton preaches at 10am.