April 25, 2014

FREY: More than just a piece of carpet


---- — The wall-to-wall, jade-colored carpet covers the floor in all but two bedrooms in our house.

The carpet was just a couple of years shy of being brand new when we moved into our house in Frankfort in 1994. It was durable, easily hid the dirt, and matched the floral pattern on our couch.

The carpet also matched our Christmas and Easter decorations.

We kept it.

Many inanimate objects in a house inhabited by children all too quickly become other things, have lives of their own. The carpet was no exception.

It was the grass under which our children built their tents, all of which were crafted with oak chairs from the dining room and woven blankets and cotton sheets from the hall closet.

It was the water when our children were stranded in a cardboard boat in the ocean or when they stepped from one couch-pillow rock to another in hopes of making it safely across to the other side of the house.

It was the concrete under which our children built roads and bridges for the many Hot Wheel cars that sped through the air and Thomas the Tank Engine trains that motored through the town.

It was the stage in a grand concert hall where a cacophony of musical notes would come together with cello, violin, and bass, and where dramatic dance routines would be performed for delighted parents.

It was the indoor, unfenced backyard after the arrival of the poodles, as they chased one another around in dizzying circles.

It was a desk topped with poster board and markers for elementary and middle school projects.

These days, the carpet, I have sadly observed, is just a carpet.

The poodles, now 14 years old and afflicted with blindness and hearing loss, have long since stopped chasing one another around the house.

The children, who are now young adults, walk back and forth from room to room, never giving much thought to the glory days of pretend concrete, grass, water and stages.

That was, up until a few months ago, when with great fanfare and excitement, my daughter, Bernadette and her friend, Ashley, plopped down on the carpet in the middle of the living room and began sifting through boxes and scrapbooks.

They were chuckling together, reminiscing about Ashley’s wedding, and placing photographs, invitations, and color schemes in a small pile in hopes of finding the perfect ideas to share with their friend, Katie, who will be getting married in October 2014.

“The old days were back,” I thought to myself, “Oh, happy day.”

Although the girls, now 22 years old, were collecting wedding ideas for Katie, I somehow saw shadows of Bernadette and Ashley hopping on those couch-pillow rocks and working on elementary school projects.

I decided that night that inanimate objects are just as much a part of our lives and our imaginations as the people we know, the feelings we possess, and the thoughts we share.

Which brings me to Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, who once said the following: “I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.”

And for just a little while that night, the carpet, now over 20 years old, was something more than just a carpet.

Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at