We didn’t see Daniel again that whole week.
I left a couple of messages for him and eventually he called back, sounding slightly peeved.
I didn’t care.
I gave him a list of things we’d like done before our return in April, including painting the upstairs interior. “I’m going to paint a swatch on the wall and leave the can right below it so there won’t be any confusion. Also, I’ll register the color at Nales” (this was the biggest hardware store on the island, which—I had learned to my delight—kept a registry of paint colors by customer name).
I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.
“Fine,” he said. “I’ll get it done.”
“Also, we’re stopping for a day on the big island on our way home to buy more furniture. We’ll send you a list of what we’ve bought so you’ll know what to expect.”
I could feel his disdain rolling in giant waves down the phone line. “Good luck.”
To hell with Daniel.
We had fun. Every morning after breakfast at the hotel we drove over to the house and puttered around for a few hours.
We took lots of photos, made copious notes and generally started getting used to the feel of our new space.
Then we went to the beach. Every day.
By the end of the week we had made a few crucial decisions, mainly that we would need to return to the island as often as possible in the coming months.
Our goal was to get at least the upstairs portion of the house ready and on the rental market in time for the coming season. This meant, essentially, that we had no more than ten months (or, to put it even more alarmingly, no more than two or three additional visits to the island) to get the upstairs ready for prime time.
Once we stopped hyperventilating, we told ourselves that this was do-able.
I selected the wall paint, as I had told Daniel, and duly registered it in the hardware store’s color book. Also, as promised, I painted a portion of wall in the great room with the buttery yellow color I had chosen, and left the labeled paint can nearby.
Once we were ensconced back in D.C., Daniel suddenly became more communicative. He emailed us every couple of weeks with updates on what he was accomplishing and even attached the occasional photo. In late March he sent shots of the great room after it had been painted, with the subject line, “Fabulous color choice.”
I was lying on the sofa watching TV when Michael opened the file. “Looks nice,” he said, “but that’s not the color you chose.”
“You’re crazy,” I said, raising up to peer at the screen. “It looks yellow.”
He stared at the image. “Not really.”
This got me to my feet. He was right. It didn’t look yellow.
“Maybe it’s just the light,” I said hopefully. I simply couldn’t believe that my fool-proof system for making sure the right color ended up on the walls had failed.
“Maybe,” Michael said, squinting at the screen.
“I’m sure it’s fine,” I concluded, willing myself to believe everything was okay.
But I wasn’t sure at all.