Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Well-Worn Comforts

I don’t know about you but I find haunting comfort in looking out my kitchen window at the same landscape, day-after-day and year-after-year changed only by high-in-the-sky or low-slanted sunlight and the color wash of the various seasons. In this I find contentment and I find similar contentment in my old tatty jeans, my gardening shoes stressed and faded by antiquity, and my old ravaged and worn living room rug. My old things provide me with caressing comfort that new things no longer provide.

Simply stated, the longer I have something, the fonder I am of it. Of course in my younger years I wanted everything new, fashionable, cutting edge, but I’m not like that anymore. With the progress of time, my things, concrete or abstract – landscapes, words, jeans, shoes, books, furniture, and even floor coverings have subtly formed a dynamic in my existence that goes beyond possession. As I age, I value as priceless that which ages with me. This is my new old-age perception that provides body and soul with a counterirritant for my physical and mental decline.

And so, in keeping with that perception, because I’ve had Hub for a very long time, he is right up there with the rest of my aging abstractions of indeterminate value. Like my kitchen landscape, Hub is precious because he has longevity on his side. And at this stage of my life, longevity positively doubles and triples the value.

I tell you these ponderings because for Mother’s Day, Hub installed new laminate floors in the living room and dining room.

So now I look at my new living area. There is a warm gloss and sheen to the new floors. But there is a part of me that misses the old silver-gray rug. I should have had a new rug years ago but I kept putting it off. Didn’t make good sense to get one with three dogs that come in and out at will through the dog-door regardless of the weather. So instead of a new rug the old rug was shampooed and shampooed. And surprisingly, despite coarse treatment, that old rug washed up nicely although all my arduous shampooing efforts could not erase the fatigue of its many years. How many years? I’m not too sure. Maybe fifteen, maybe more.

So when sadness at the loss of something precious that I’ve had more than half as long as Hub began to wash over me, I said to myself, “There is one thing that is going to make me appreciate my new floor wholeheartedly.

When I see what is under that rug there will be nothing but solid relief that it was ripped out. Just one bit of mold, one crawler/larvae/tick, alive or dead, will make me feel absolute orgasmic ecstasy that the old rug is gone.

But guess what? There was nothing. Not even a dead fruit-fly. No mold. No disgusting thing whatsoever. Yeh, a bit of debris and powdery underlay, but nothing to make me click my heels together and happily kiss my old rug good-bye.

I share this final secret with you. Please don’t tell Hub but my appreciation for my new floors is somewhat blunted by sadness. I can’t help feeling like a little bit of my heart and soul went out the door with that old grey rug that we danced on so many times and that caressed puppies’ feet and my own for so many years.


Joy Des Jardins said...

That is so funny Roberta. Six years ago we FINALLY decided to get new carpeting. After 24 years of wear and tear from kids and such, we decided to get rid of our old green carpeting...prompted by the fact that my daughter was getting married and we really did need to upgrade. The wedding was the perfect excuse. We replace it with this lovely camel-colored beige that made the whole house look different. We also replaced our kitchen and foyer floors. But...I remember feeling those same twinges watching that green carpeting being pulled up and out the door. I have a tendency to feel the same way you do about old and established possessions...there's a little bit of us in all of them. Loved this post Roberta....

Matty said...

I cried when my old couch went out the door. Everyone laughed...but the memories of sitting up nights waiting for my sons to come home..the nights spent curled up with a sick grandchild...or reading to them. That couch was well-worn and filled with memories..it was difficult letting it go. Men just don't get it!
I feel the same way about my slippers. Ihave 3 new pairs in the closet....but I like my old one's best, although there is a hole in one toe,,the sole's are so thin you can see through them..yet they bring me comfort.
We live in a throw-away society. It's broke, throw it out, shabby...get a new one! That's the way we treat some of our seniors too.
Very good post...thought-provoking!

Pauline said...

We invest so much of ourselves in our possessions - there's nothing wrong with loving things. They figure in and reinforce our emotional memories. Beisdes, letting them go gives us much needed practice in letting other things go...

Roberta S said...

Joy, glad you enjoyed the rant. It verifies to me that for some of us those 'twinges' of regret are not purely imaginary. In our current throw-away world, I'm quite certain you'd have a hard time finding a rug that would give the kind of service that you're old (beloved) rug gave you.

Roberta S said...

matty, I'm sympathetic, I really am, but I still laugh when you say you cried about the old couch. I remember when Hub traded in one of his first cars. He didn't cry but after trading it in and when we were leaving the lot he suddenly backed up and said, "Wait, I forgot something." Then he ran to his old car and kissed the steering wheel and murmured final words of endearment to his 'dear old girl'. At the time I shook my head in disbelief.

And yes, we are a throw-away society. And sometimes I can't help but think that with our smugness about recycling and the blue boxes at the curb, we buy even more junk and throw away even more junk than we might otherwise. Doctors are frantic about the people who buy sunblock and then stay in the sun way past the recommended time mistakenly thinking they are totally safe from harmful rays. The environmentalists are not frantic yet about how the recycle preach is making us more wasteful, but maybe someday soon they will be.

Roberta S said...

Hi pauline. That is such a profound thought.

And I see that down the road I'm going to get more practice than I need. And as you suggest, something as simple as a new floor, will come back to mind, because of the comment you made, and in the context of that I'm certain 'letting go' will be easier than it might have been otherwise.