I had spent most of the morning working on my novel, living inside the bell jar of my own, strange imagination. At some point, I went to fetch my phone from the family room. As I did, I spotted an airy tuft of cat fur on the hardwood floor, just lallygagging there like a tiny tumbleweed. It was one of many such gifts from Winston, our aging Siamese cat, who generates a hair-cloud just by sneezing.
Vacuuming is a good way to stretch one’s middle-aged legs, so I dragged out the Miele and got to work, hitting all of Winnie’s favorite sunbathing areas.
Glitter Glue Memento
Now, there is a low step between our kitchen and family room; and as I vacuumed there, the sunlight caught a smudge of shiny purple—no bigger than a thumbnail—on the varnished oak. It was old glitter glue, I realized, from when my toddler daughter—now a senior in college—settled on the floor to make a construction-paper collage. I remember how she’d spread her supplies all over the place, and my wife and I would tiptoe around her to get into the kitchen. Knowing how fastidious I was, I probably scolded her for messing up the shiny hardwood floors. The intervening years have made me more tolerant of dings in the plaster or glue on the floor, though apparently I’m still bothered by cat fur.
Just as the years rounded some of my jagged edges, they also transformed that little girl with the glitter glue into a tall, articulate woman living in New York, with a Metro card and capacious black purse. All this happened just as my older friends warned me it would—when I wasn’t looking.
What’s the Hurry?
Three or so years ago, we refinished the floors in the front of our house—changing hues from what Minwax calls “Golden Oak” to “Jacobean,” a deep chocolate-brown. It all looks great, but the project was such a pain in the ass that we had the floor guys stop work when they reached the threshold between the dining room and kitchen. What remains is a sloppy, two-tone border demarcating food preparation and consumption, Golden Oak and Jacobean, past and present.
We thought about completing the project this summer—extending the dark floor all the way back to the family room. It would update the look, as they say. By this summer, we figure, we’ll have banked enough tolerance for sawdust in our hair to resume work. I have to say, though, seeing that smudge of purple glitter on the step makes me think I could tolerate the old floors a while longer.
I think I’ve hurried enough.