Today’s parking adventure was pretty much split-second timing. I painted the fourth wall of my bedroom—I dithered so much over the weekend, deciding between White Satin and No. 7330, that it was dark by the time I got to the third wall, opposite the window, and I couldn’t see whether any color was going on or not. That was the White Satin. This morning, in the light, it was so pale that if I hadn't known I'd put paint on that wall I wouldn’t have been able to tell that I’d painted it at all. That was what decided me on what color to paint the fourth wall, opposite the door: definitely the deeper blue, No. 7330. It also has a name (something stupid like Blue Boy), but I think of it as Ravishing Blue. It is exactly the color I wanted, the color of pale-blue hydrangeas, and the only reason that I didn’t paint the whole room that color is that I was afraid if there was too much of it, it wouldn’t be so ravishing.
My car was in an 8:30-10 spot. I thought about moving it yesterday to a less time-consuming spot, but it would have been too time-consuming. This morning I considered going out early to see if I could score a 7:30-8 spot, but what are the chances? I even thought of moving it to the lot by the river ($15), and then going home and painting. Instead, at 7:30 I decided to attack the fourth wall. By 8:20 I had finished and dashed out in my paint clothes and moved the car to a meter (50 cents) in front of my building. I had thirty minutes to stop at the store for cat litter and skim milk (the two perennial items on my grocery list), wash and change for work, make coffee (poured half in a cup and half in a thermos), and blast back out to the car before the meter ran out, at 9:10. I got to my chosen block—the one where the violence broke out (I decided I really ought to give the block where I banged into that woman a rest)—at the optimal time: the Broom had passed and there were still a few choice places left. I took the first one I saw, of course, just west of a fire hydrant, east of the barbershop and the Chinese laundry, in front of a copy shop. There was a Mini Cooper behind me.
Finally I got to enjoy my morning coffee. (The coffee I put in the cup I never got around to drinking.) Sitting in the car for fifty minutes with the Times and a thermos of coffee might seem like a waste of time to some people, but to me, after a weekend devoted to home improvement, it felt like a much needed vacation, from paint fumes, if nothing else. It was spring weather, and I could bask in the knowledge that I'd found the perfect shade of blue. I got a lot of conflicting advice while I was choosing a color. My friend G. came over and examined paint chips with me, and after an arduous session with two hundred colors and a dozen pictures of wisteria (and a few shots of gin) we settled on Hydrangea and Naples Sunset. G. instructed me to put the darker color on the back wall: it would make the room recede and look deeper. Another friend, the Catwoman of Rockaway, told me that if I was thinking of using two colors I should put the paler shade on a wall that got the light, and the room would look bigger. My bedroom gets direct light in the winter for about twenty minutes at two in the afternoon. It hits the bed (the cats love it), never reaching the back wall. Otherwise, I get only refracted light in there, the sun bouncing off the windows in the high alley of receding buildings that is the view from my south-facing window.
Anyway, I bought a quart of Hydrangea and a quart of Naples Sunset and dabbed both shades on two walls: they were hideous. We had failed to take into account the difference between studying paint chips under a reading light in the living room and living with deep colors on whole walls of a bedroom that is already dim. It didn't help that my splashes were in the shape of huge molars. It also doesn't help that I am so susceptible to the names they give the colors. I am always evaluating the name instead of the color. Give me Billowing Clouds! Give me Spring Lilac! Blueberry Ice! Ocean Breeze! I would never have chosen Little Boy Blue, or whatever, if the name had been on the front of the sample instead of discreetly on the back.
At 9:40 a black Maxima with a Jamaica bumper sticker pulled into the space by the hydrant. The Jamaican (I assume) got out and walked back along the line of cars, judging how much space we were wasting. Jamaicans are good at conserving space. They have to be: they live on an island, and one not connected by bridge and tunnel to more spacious places. The Jamaican went from car door to car door, working like a diplomat to get everyone to back up and make room for him. In the end, he fit with ease.