“It’s all yours!” She handed me the key to the room, which was slightly smaller than her corset.
A few weeks prior, the space was equally as intriguing as her couture, a decorating style I dubbed Italian Cemetery. White plaster gargoyles and figurines were mounted on the walls, adorned with wreathes of dried roses.
All that was missing was the peeing boy statue.
While I wasn’t in love with the holes left by the gargoyles, I fell head over heels with the floors.
Just bare wood with a bit of distress.
“II think I’ll paint the walls a vanilla ice cream.” I smiled. “They’ll melt nicely into the chocolate finish.”
Her black heels clicked on the oak as she left, leaving my toes alone and cold in open Birkenstocks. I looked around and thought about all of the massive homes I had been in, with closets bigger than my entire space. And of course, there would be wall to wall carpeting. In those roped off rooms where children weren’t allowed, conversations would be monitored as carefully as the Royal Doulton tea cup teetering on my lap.
“Don’t bring up that topic, it’ll upset Dad.”
“Aunt Wilma doesn’t want hear that her son drank.”
“Harry thinks we’re still married.”
“No need to have an intervention.”
Thick plush carpeting would cover every crack of their lives, making me as uncomfortable as the plastic covered chairs I was sitting on.
I locked my new room and headed towards the elevator where I bumped into the brave guy who scrubs pots without a hazmat suit. But that day, his smile had gone down the drain.
“How’s it going?” I asked.
“Not Good,” he grumbled. “Got a call from my daughter. She’s hitting the bottle again.”
No carpet. I thought.
Then ride was not the express. As more characters piled in on every floor, a favorite resident squeezed into the sardine can. She was bundled up like a Sherpa heading for Mt. Everest.
“Aren’t you coming to dinner? I asked.
“Nah..Gotta see my shrink.”
“Did you just say shrink? One would more likely hear a fart than that word slip out where I come from .”
“Yep, he keeps me from going nuts,” she laughed.
No Carpet. I thought.
Since it was Cajun night, the line for dinner snaked into the lobby. I joined the python of residents, their imperfect floorboards of their souls exposed.
My kid’s on the spectrum.
My kid’s on the streets.
I was living in my car.
I was living without purpose.
No wall to wall carpet to cover up their messy lives.
And the honesty was fresh air in a world of Glade Plug ins.
“Move it,” I felt a fork jab my arm. The nudge was from a typical guy: nose ring, beard, wool cap and huge tat. But his ink was peculiar. It was an opossum with a litter of babies clinging to its back, crawling all the way up to the crease of his elbow.
As we piled beans on our plate, I had to ask, “Why did you get American’s favorite roadkill at a tat?”
“To cover up something even worse,” he said.
Arm carpet, I smiled to myself.
I went back into my new room look and gazed at the floor one more time, embracing each one of its scratches. I knew as long as I lived at the Chelsea Hotel, there would be no shag or Berber to sweep my problems under.
I smiled and my toes smiled, too.
How refreshing to live in a community without carpet. When you have a mess, friends are there to help mop it up.