Marlene and the Wallpaper Epiphany

Have you guys ever noticed what a weird word “epiphany” is?  It’s got ‘pip’ right there in the middle of it.  I guess that’s fitting, I had a real pip of a day….

As of right now, we’re a one-car family.  Oh yeah, if you google ‘street view’ us, it *appears* as if we have two cars, but in actuality we are merely upholding a long-standing Tennessee tradition by having a vehicle rusting in the driveway.  It’s important, you could say we’re taking part in history.  Anyway, as we’re moving right now, it makes it really tough.  A whole lot of dropping the kid off at school, dropping the husband off at work, him dropping me off at the house, and not a home-cooked meal to found at either place.

Some of this stress has been alleviated by my dear mother-in-law, a kind woman with a much newer, roomier vehicle than our working one.  The plan for her helping today was for her to be here at noon, for me to have a load of boxed goodness ready to load in her car, and to show her the house and unload before the boy’s pickup before 3.

Well, she arrives juuuust as I dump coffee down the front of the only clean long-sleeved top I could find (hey ya’ll its COLD out there, and I have yet to find what I did with those bins of winter clothes), trying to swallow some meds to rid myself of the headache I woke up with…  I hate it when that happens.  This time, it is honestly dust, but its like maniacal super-megadust, doubledust, its the deep-down dirty stuff of cleaning the corners out here, and the new ‘fancy’ fun of a stranger’s dust filling the new place.  But anyway, I had a headache, I spilled coffee, I found a wrinkly shirt and was a little cold all day.  Whatevs.  Its one of those things that just sets you off on the wrong foot, makes you a little behind, and generally makes you stumble over yourself for a few hours.

We load the car fairly quickly, and before we head to the other side of town to the new house, we decide to drop into a thrift store we had only visited twice before.  It’s over here closer to downtown, near our old place, and I had yet to check it for wallpaper.  (Ahhh, wallpaper, you beguiling little minx, you!)  As we are headed in, Donna realizes that she has left her purse at home.  Forty-five minutes away.  No cash, no wallet, no lipstick, somehow she’d made it all the way to me with only her car keys and the spare pair of eyeglasses she keeps stashed in her car.  Hasty arrangements are made to have Pan place more money in my account, so that I could use my card to cover her purchases for the day.  Easily enough arranged, we went back to our mission.  It wasn’t long before I had a cart in had, strolling the isles and picking up an amazing late 60s mug for a lowly dime.

In a crammed corner of the store, I am forced to make a hasty decision.  They have five double rolls of a Ralph Lauren wallpaper that looks like ticking.  Very classic– a denim blue stripe on crisp white– but not really me or my general aesthetic.  If we’re doing wallpaper based on humble fabrics, sign me up for some gingham, any day.  I love that stuff.  But the ticking is a dollar a roll, and the color is good, and Donna likes the paper– she is very encouraging.  I even go so far as to repeat my Mother’s mantra, “When in doubt, leave it out.”  But in the end, I relent and add the rolls to the cart.  When am I going to run another FIVE rolls of acceptable paper?  For five bucks, isn’t it worth the risk?  We move to the checkout, add the mass of the our combined selections to the counter, and the kindly grey-haired volunteer begins to ring us up.  As she gets about 3/4s the way through our items, my eyes land upon a tiny, hand-lettered sign on the cash register, “CASH ONLY.”  Argh.  I explain to the lady that I have NO cash on-hand, but that she should complete ringing up the sale and cash it out knowing that I would return to pay for the goods.  For my collateral, I left her my mother-in-law.

Now, by the time I return and complete that transaction, we are only an hour and five city blocks from Fox’s pickup at school.  It would be flat-out impossible to make it out to the new house, unload, and return in time for pickup, so we are obliged to use up some more time on that side of town.  Which is fine, hunt for more wallpaper!

We drive to a KARM location (that stands for Knox Area Rescue Ministries, one of the nicest area thrift stores) , and I run into the shop while Donna waits in the car.  No paper, nada of interest in the store, really, which is unusual.  We proceed on to the Salvation Army…  I have a buddy at the SA, a young manager type that I generally give a hard time for no reason.  Its a fun thing.  After asking where Fox is, he asks if there was something we were looking for, I give him the magic word.  “Anaglypta.”  (Haha, that is, actually, a special kind of embossed wallpaper, but its one of those fun words that will be forever stuck in my head but never really useful, like “les haricots verts” or what an “aglet” is.  I’m not even really looking for it now.)  He heads off for the double doors at the back of the store, hollering, “Wallpaper, eh?  I don’t think we have any….  I’ll check though.”  One minute later, he’s coming back through, saying, “Sorry hon, we got nothing.”  Another woman, also perusing the isles of colorful tee shirts, says, “I’m sorry, did you say, wallpaper?”  He replies, “Tell her Marlene!”

“Marlene” says, “Have you tried Knox Rail Salvage?  They have wallpaper, a dollar a roll.”  At this point I remember that another friend, Jenny, had also recommended that I check there.  I get directions; thank them both profusely; check the time; we head over to Fox’s school to pick him up; and then head straight back over to Knox Rail Salvage.

One of the TWO rows of paper at KRS

Yaaaaaaa’ll…  let me just say, they had wallpaper.  They had two FULL isles, filled to the ceiling, with all kinds, colors, ages, and textures of wallpaper that you could imagine.  And Marlene was right, a dollar a roll!  Donna chased and watched the boy while I attempted to do the fastest shopping ever, buying nine rolls….  I will share what I purchased in a future post, I promise.  Needless to say, I was pretty thankful for Marlene and her off-handed suggestion.  At some point while I was in there, I got a really, really good idea regarding all of this wallpaper.  I also managed to get TWENTY matching cabinet knobs for 68 cents each, pink plastic, way cute!   I think I will be going back to look for a light fixture– to replace the fan over the dining table– before my parents’ visit next week….

I’m glad that the day was turned around for me, finally.  I haven’t found anything that surpasses the joy and wonderment of that grey candy shop paper, but I haven’t given up on it yet, either.  Maybe, just maybe, if I get *all* of the rest house’s paper for less than the average cost of a double roll of the new stuff, he’ll let me splurge on this one room.  One could hope!




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