I wanted every room to be painted the same color. I wanted the trim the same color, the wall alongside the stairs down to the basement the same color. I wanted my office to be the same, the kitchen to be the same, the den with its brick fireplace: the same. We argued about it. And then we hired painters, who moved everything we owned — the things we carried into our life in this house and dropped like an anchor — into enormous piles in the middle of every room. The walls were painted a bright white, as though the entire house was dipped in promise. After two weeks, it looked clean and fresh and uncluttered, like the beginning of new lives belonging to other people. The things of our pasts, obscured with drop cloths, were suddenly invisible; our stuff was gone, and all we had was ourselves, our home, our name. A blank slate.