We had new carpeting installed the other day and while obsessing over its cushy feel I was transported back to the living room rug which saw me through my first twenty-one years. That venerable Persian carpet magically seems brighter and softer in my mind than it probably ever was. It just flew in with its sunny orange and regal blues along with the Byzantine design and odor of moth balls trapped in its fibers.
That rug was the preferred field of combat for Monopoly, Chinese Checkers, Parchese and backgammon as we sprawled ourselves upon it, rolling dice and moving around the board game of life. If I tried spreading my body out on this new carpet I might be lost for days in its plush and I expect it might take that long to get myself in an upright position anyway given the state of my bones.
My mother was observant of two ritual days, the one in late spring when we wrapped the carpet up in tar paper and moth balls and the day in early September when we unfurled it to cover the entire room. Like most high holy days it was never to be questioned. The preservation must have worked; at least it looks as good as new to me now. I don’t hear much about tar paper these days but then again I’m not in the roofing insulation business. Even moth balls have rolled out of my life.
Absent a hardwood floor, wall-to-wall carpeting is the only warm and fuzzy option I am aware of. Our version of wall-to-wall should be qualified. Four floor-to-ceiling bookcases are bolted to the wall and I had no interest in moving them. We call them, our wall, along with an eight foot wall unit at which point the buck stops. In the event of our joint demise the landlord will have to deal with the patchwork.
Materialism as a philosophical concept is in disrepute. In terms of spirituality Americans are denounced for excess consumption. But consider this: in all our buying and selling, our acquisitiveness, utilitarianism and impulse to discard and replace we tend to neglect the thing itself, its materiality and possible meta-narrative, even a certain energy in the way it redefines the space.
Excuse me while I immerse myself in this thing. A few months from now it may disappear into that vast warehouse of life’s furniture, invisible from familiarity; right now I’m enjoying the polyester lawn under my toes and its newness smell. It registers my footprints with its lustrous yarn. The company calls it Brazilian Brown; Peggy says it is rosy rust. My choice is dusty rose. It says a lot about a fabric that defies description. I remove my shoes entering the room and I’m on my hands and knees checking for existential crumbs. Is there anything so new as new carpeting….except perhaps a new car? But why bother with a car when for far less money you can have a magic carpet?