After Mark moved out I repainted the master bedroom. A colour called toffee cream I think, darker than magnolia, it’s a big room and can take a slightly darker colour. It’s now a nice guest room (with en suite) and the library. It’s taken a good 6 months but I can now let people use the room, it’s reintegrated into the house and I don’t call it ‘Mark’s room’ any more. It was hard.
I repainted the back wall of the kitchen next, this one was caramel cream, it’s still all very safe, but it’s not magnolia. That’s the point. Magnolia is a transient colour. Magnolia can’t be a mistake, it’s very safe, it says ‘i’m just passing through, I make no impact’.
When I was a child my parents were landlords letting flats in Leicester. Every time people moved out in we all went with the magnolia paint and freshened everything up. Magnolia is the colour of tenants, the colour of temporary. When I went to university I was part of and for a while ran a decorating project for Student Community Action and again the most common paint was magnolia, for council tenants and old people, again ‘i’m not really here, i’m no trouble, don’t mind me’.
I hate it. I hate it’s transience and I hate it’s nothingness. I hate what it says about a house and the person in it. I’m being unfair of course, it’s a paint colour, it’s associations come from my experience with it not it’s innate nature. But still.
My life has been magnolia for years. This last year has been like waking up. It was so obvious reading Lost and Found that the line I chose was the perfect tattoo, it so neatly summed up how I feel about the last 15 years. I wasn’t really here, transient, magnolia. Now though, now i’m putting some colour on the walls, declaring myself at home, not just in my house but in myself too.
Here I am, I am alive and whole and I am staying part of the world this time and I intend to be plenty trouble. Goodbye magnolia life.