It’s been 4 years. The can of paint is still sitting on the shelf, smeared and dented, no longer sticky but covered with my paint-laden finger prints from the first time I opened it. It’s a can of paint among dozens of others, sitting in the garage, all full or half-full, of various shades and finishes. Each representing an unfinished project, an abandoned remodel, a wall left untouched. But only this can of paint, this shade of lilac, this abandoned dream, can take my breath away and reduce me to tears. Or could.
It’s just a can of paint, but for so long it was so much more. It was the promise of a life according to plan. It was tea parties, pretty dresses, pig tails and nail polish. It was girl talk, life lessons in feminine wiles, and the passing on of heirlooms, few as they may be. It was the prospect of raising another like me, only better, less broken. It was wrong. I was wrong.
It has only ever been a can of paint. The dreams, the plans, the prospects were mine, and when they didn’t materialize, I tossed them all in that can and tapped the lid shut tight, just not tight enough. Every time I saw it on the shelf, the wound ripped open, my heart broke a little bit more. But that was me, not the can of paint. I didn’t get what I knew I wanted, what I thought I needed. I got something better, something more, but I couldn’t see it for the can of paint in the way.
He was not what I expected. He has become so much more. He is red and yellow, not lilac and white. He is dirt and pirates, a monkey in a cape instead of lace and nail polish, or pigtails on a princess. He is snotty kisses and raucous laughter rather than dainty pecks and tender giggles. He is so different, and yet so very much the same. He is me in miniature, only funnier and with more fire, more righteous indignation and determination to make the world what he sees it should be. He has my heart. He is my heart. And there is no can, color, or finish of paint that will change that.
It’s time I threw that can of paint away.
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