Our new flooring was installed yesterday by James, a wiry and energetic individual who has been installing floors for 32 years now. He got the job done in a few clicks over four hours and left with a wave of his hand and a quick good-bye.
After I put my kitchen back together, I looked at the floor. It felt like I was regarding a new pet or something. Hello, floor. We are getting acquainted and figuring out what our mutual needs are. It's a nice texture under bare feet, and it has a handsome faque slate appeal. Nothing beats true stone, but for a little apartment, imitation is okay.
I wanted to dance on it, break it in, celebrate all over it, twist and shout maybe. It has a certain warmth and willingness to accept what life bounces off of it, a lack of pretension. You can live with a floor that does not aspire to be anything else; it is not a work of art and yet it has just enough pride in its appearance that I will be happy to show it to its best advantage.
It is said that under the carpeting in the rest of the place, a hardwood floor is hidden. I've seen what work it is to restore and refinish a hardwood floor, and I am not eager to take that step, but I know just how beautiful the fine ones can look. A friend has one that stirs hearts and souls with its clear-grain fir beauty. She seems to have a knack for making it glow, too, which a fine floor demands.
No, my new floor is an up-to-date modern impressionist floor. That is, it gives the impression of something else that it is not. And all the while, it patiently resists stains, dings, dirt and scuffs: The very things we seem to admire in old natural things when we see them. Old stone or wood things, well worn and used by people over a long period of time, earn our admiration in a much different way than does an imitation flooring material when it has become tired and worn out. Old things made of metal, wood or stone endure and develop a patina, a certain je ne sais quoi that suggests a story may be revealed with close inspection. Look, they seem to say, I am an old step that has been trodden by thousands of shoes. An antique wooden table plank that has been smoothed by hands and been leaned on by elbows while voices recounted the events of the day is something more interesting than a new table is.
Old, well-worn things endure us, but faque things? Not so much. They eventually look shabby and cannot be restored if they've been used a lot. When you take away nostalgia and the charm of kitschy style inherent in various pop eras, wood, stone and metal seem to hold up better over time and even have an improved appeal that old plastic does not. Old stone steps of a centuries-old cathedral are remarkable to see, and certain very old wooden musical instruments are sometimes priceless.
Ultimately, it's the interaction with human hands and feet that brings beauty to the things we build. The stone steps are interesting to us especially if they are worn by thousands of feet. The old wooden instruments sound far better if they've been played vigorously all their lives, and a house unlived in is nothing without human inhabitants breathing life into it.
My floor is a fine new floor, doing what it was meant to do, and it's an improvement over the one it replaced. It will do well until it doesn't someday, and then that will be the end of that.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way