There’s nothing wrong with the paper– I remember when it was put up, when I was a child. It was pretty, it is pretty still, in its way, but it’s faded. It’s yellowing, now, at the edges, peeling a bit at the seams, the paper dry and cracked in some places, bubbled in others. There are patches where furniture’s stood and it’s more and less faded, oily spots where the bed pillows have lain.
Still, the plaster beneath is essentially sound. There are rough patches, sure, and there are a few places where there are cracks that will have to be smoothed– but peel it all back and the wall stands ready for something new, maybe something a little less florid. And if there’s dust and gum under my fingers, an ache in my arms and burn in my lungs from reaching to scrape back all that paper, inhale all that glue, now even more dissolved from what it was already beginning to fail to hold all together?
It’s enough of a trade off for the way, mostly, that the old, tired paper’s coming away like a sigh, like a scab that wants to be picked, like a skin that knows it’s time to be shed.