Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ripping up the past.

The walls and ceilings were painted. The woodwork was scrubbed. And today’s the day to rip up the old carpet. I can’t wait to step on the soft, clean beautiful new floor. But I can’t help looking back as the past is ripped up from underfoot.

There’s an orange stain in my son’s room, about three feet from the wall where the end of his bunk bed used to sit. There was a chair that I used to pull out and climb up on so I could kiss him goodnight. Every night he slept with glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling over his head like a celestial night light. One night, after a big Thanksgiving dinner, he got sick from a little too much pumpkin pie.

He hates pumpkin pie to this day, but today, the stain will be gone, once and for all.

There’s a hole by the closet and door in my daughter’s room. It’s about an inch or so deep and there’s fuzz all around it. There used to be a white metal daybed along the one wall covered in a fuchsia and jade quilt with bunny prints on the wall where I tucked her in at night. She always fell asleep with a little purple unicorn tucked under her arm and a night light softly glowing across the room. She grew up and moved out to go to college. A year later, she moved back in bringing her fluffy, white kitten, who loved to dig holes in the carpet in her room.

She still loves her kitty (and so do I), but today, the holes will be gone, once and for all.

There are stains and marks and divots all over the carpet upstairs in my house. I’ve vacuumed and steam cleaned and spot cleaned probably every inch of it in the last 17 years.

This carpet's seen sweet little pajama footed feet grow into big, smelly feet. It’s seen kittens grow into big cats and old cats and die. It’s seen young pups get too old to make it up the carpeted stairs.

It’s seen a couple young and vibrant and sleep deprived cheer children through soccer, band, choir, college and, now, becoming young and vibrant couples, while they become older, closer and less sleep deprived but still bouncing in the cheering sections when needed. It’s seen accidents of all kinds caused by colds, flus, sleepovers, secret stashes of candy, cookies, drinks and, yes, tobacco. It’s seen bunk beds become big beds; toy chests become desks leaving empty indentations in the pile.

But today, all those marks of the growth, the giggles and tears, the sighs of comfort and stress, the sleepless and restful nights will disappear. The past will be ripped up and replaced by new carpet. Shiny. Clean. Unblemished. With no wrinkles or holes or stains or mats left by former occupants or past mistakes.

Underfoot is the present and in this moment, it’s brand new. I sink my feet into the soft support, smell the fresh tang of new fibers and admire the clean slate gray carpet that spreads across the room. Where our steps will lead now, I don’t know. I do have a hope, though, that this new carpet will cushion and comfort the feet that pad and walk across it in spite of the inevitable divots and dirt of life.

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