“What have you done here?” he cries. “Your rugs are all faded! “
I look and he is right: The rug he has come to clean had been red, tan and navy when we bought it. Now it is rust, cream and baby blue.
“This rug is losing RADIANCE! “ he yelled.
“I’m losing radiance myself, “ I say. “It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt. “
“Here’s what you have to do, “ he goes on, ignoring me. “Pull down the shades. Draw the drapes.” He bustles around doing this until the room that has dazzled with sunlight a moment before looks ready now for a séance.
“But we love the sun!” I tell him feebly. We sit in this window seat here, and-”
“Then at least take a sheet and cover the area of greatest exposure!“ he snaps.
“You owe it to your rugs,“ he adds, scooping up the carpet in question and hurrying out the door.
I have thought a lot about this scene since that day. This is the man who sold us our rugs in the first place and I was sorry to let him down, but I just can’t run a house his way, keeping the rugs bright by locking the sunlight out. Keeping things perfect under plastic. Pleasant under glass.
I used to visit houses like this when I was a kid and they made me feel as though silken cords were stretched across the chair arms, and velvet ropes were hung across the doorways.
I vowed I would never run my own house that way.
And I don’t. We live in our house, dammit. We live all over those velvet sofas in the living room, which are only velvet because velvet is the toughest fabric there is.
But now the upholstery man has just gotten after me too. He came here once for the Victorian sofa I had tried reupholstering myself a decade ago that ended up looking like a lumpy pink bed with a person sewn inside it. He took that old thing out and turned it into a pale-blue dream of perfection.
Then this past month, a small visitor set her tiny bones upon a sofa even older than the Victorian one and blam! one Duncan Fife leg – ball, claw, and all – shot straight out from under it. So the guy was here now to perform diagnosis on the break.
But his gaze fell first upon toddler who was clumping quietly around in his little white shoes.
You let your CHILDREN in this room?“ he squeaked, his voice ascending the scale of disbelief.
“Sure, “ I answered, as the child in question smiled sweetly and drooled a little onto the velvet.
“On THIS couch!? “ He squeaked. “MY couch?! “
“It’s going to lose radiance!” I could all but hear him say next.
He didn’t say that though. Instead he picked up the most recent casualty and started for the door. “It’s your house, “ he shrugged washing his hands of us all.
“You bet!“ I called after him.
Because really it’s fine by me if our stuff is too worn out to pass down to our kids one day. What I would much rather pass down to them is permission to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings; permission to fade, as we all must fade, gloriously, in the sun.