Grays are difficult. Or at least that is what people who like talking about paint colors (all three of us! and the other two are not Kyle!) like to say.
And of course I wanted a gray house. I wanted it so badly that my poor house spent an embarrassing amount of time looking like this:
I was on a five-paint-samples-a-day kind of habit, mired in indecision. I asked every neighbor their favorite color and every neighbor gave me a different answer. One afternoon, as I stood staring at our patchy house, Joe came and stood beside me. “Which one are you liking?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “This one?” I tapped a finger on a stretch of pale gray paint.
“Yeah,” said Joe. “That’s the one. Know why?” And he lowered his voice, so it came out in a confidential hush. “What everyone keeps forgetting about is the roof. That one’s the best with the roof.”
Guess what I had been obsessing over that no one else cared about even a little bit, until that very moment? “Joe, you are so right,” I said.
We tinted the primer to match the paint and slathered it on. It did not go well with the roof. Actually, “Amazing Greige” looked pink.
So we started all over again. Samples and splotches. Once again Joe came out and stood beside me. “Which one do you like?” he said.
“Um. This one?”
“Yeah. That one’s best with the roof.”
And that’s when I realized Joe had a masterful command of psychology. “Are you just saying that?”
Back to the paint store, where Darrell was at the counter. My last visit he’d been hesitant to pass over the book of paint colors. These might be too much for you, he said. And now here I was. He looked slightly pained to see me.
This time, after ordering a few more samples, I asked him which color he would recommend.
“Well,” he said, “if you’re wanting a true gray, I guess I’d go with this.” He pointed at a new color.
“Um, that’s blue,” I said.
“Oh, no,” he said. “It’s gray. True gray.”
I took a sample home anyway, mostly because Darrell is really nice, and he tells good stories about unearthing Civil War belt buckles with his metal detector. And the sample?
It was, more or less, blue.
I loved it. And that’s when I realized Darrell isn’t colorblind, but like Joe, has a masterful command of psychology. I am pretty sure he realized something I should have realized myself, once I had gone past Paint Sample #373. The problem wasn’t the shade of gray, or even gray itself.*  The problem was that I kept insisting I wanted gray, even though I didn’t actually like how it looked, because I had said that was what I wanted a long time ago. I think we all have those moments–in careers or in love or in geography–where we fix on the past and forget to actually look at what is in front of us.
In less romantic terms, it turns out I really wanted a blue(ish) house. Who knew.
The other day Godiva and I were taking a walk when we passed our neighbor Marilyn. She was on her way to a birthday, bouquet of roses in hand, but she paused for a moment when she saw us. “Oh my gosh,” she said. “I love your house. What a lovely shade of blue.”
It is. It really is.

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