Aaron has bought an apartment; he moved in about a month ago. I’ve also just bought an apartment, but I’ve been living in mine for years; the landlord wanted to sell. Presently renovating is a subject close to my heart, but I get the sense that Aaron’s tired of the whole thing.
I had hoped to meet at his place and perhaps catch him caressing his newly painted walls, but we settle for the pub instead. We chat for a while about his work, before moving on to other matters.
“At the moment,” he says, “I’ve mostly concentrated on building a home. It’s getting there, bit by bit.” He sips at his orange juice. “I’ve had to come to the realisation that you’ve got this great image but you’re not going to get it immediately unless you have copious amounts of money. It’s going to be a slow process, but that’s fine.”
This is the first time Aaron has owned, he had only ever rented. I ask if he has a list of his local tradesmen. He smiles impishly. “I do need a good plumbing.” “Yes,” I reply, “but what about the apartment?”
The smile fades as he sighs. He picks at the bowl of peanuts. “I really have no idea, but I do need to get a plumber to change a washer. I should know how to change a washer.”
I’m surprised that he feels daunted by a washer, especially knowing that he had spent weeks stripping and painting the walls before moving in. “First time I’ve ever painted, I don’t think I’ll do it again. I started off thinking, yeah, this is great fun, but then, uh, it’s a bit boring really.” He looks drained at the thought. I don’t think it was an enjoyable experience, more a task that had to be done.
I ask about the colour, and for the first time he brightens. “I call it White and White, where people who actually have a style gene call it Raw Cotton and Quarter Raw Cotton. Apparently there’s a difference.
“I was in a very petulant mood when I got taken to look at colours. I had two friends going, well, what about this one? And I was, yeah that’ll do.” He pauses for a moment before displaying a grin. “I was being really annoying. I kept saying I wanted ‘Minimalist with Warmth’. They were choosing creams with ‘yellow undertones’ and ‘brown undertones’, but to me it was all white.
“Then I saw Morning Smurf, which is a lovely blue, so I latched on to that knowing it would look hideous.” He laughs mischievously. “And that annoyed the crap out of them.”
What about a feature wall? He nods. “They did. They ended up doing a wall in the Raw Cotton instead of the Quarter. So there is a feature wall.” He pauses. “I can’t notice, but.”
He becomes serious again. “You do things, you become aware. For instance, in the common area if there was junk mail I used to ignore it, but now I think, ‘this is part of my home,’ so I put it in the bin. But you think, every single thing now is yours, so it’s your responsibly. It’s a bit daunting at times.”
We’ve run out of peanuts so I take this as my cue to go get some more. We change the subject.
As we are leaving, I mention how I had wanted to meet at his place and watch him stroking his walls. He laughs. “No,” he says, putting on his coat, “I’m afraid I’m not that affectionate about walls.”