I spent this morning on my knees, working on the kitchen floor. Tim had ripped up horrible linoleum, and discovered that beneath the linoleum was a layer of felt that had been glued to the hardwood floor. I'd been trying to scrape it up, but the felt just separated into layers, and I was removing a layer only to find another layer of felt beneath that, and then beneath that yet more felt. The kitchen is good sized, and it began to seem that this was the never ending job.
We tried a heat gun suggested by the folks at the wallpaper store, but that did not work. In desperation, we poured water on the floor. Lots of it. Ironic, since when we've been trying to dry out the house since we moved in. The burst radiators had introduced a whole lot of humidity into the house, and we've had dehumidifiers running since we took possession of it.
In any case, Tim poured the hot water on the floor, soaking the felt, and I crawled around on my hands and knees scraping. That worked well, and within a couple hours, we could see that the floor in the kitchen was salvageable. (We were afraid we might have to put down more linoleum or perhaps a laminate.)
I crawled around on the floor scraping and daydreaming about what the world was like the last time that wood floor had seen the light of day. I wondered about the people that lived in it then.
I spend a lot of time daydreaming about what was, but I know that time does not run backward. Those people lived in their time, and they are here no longer. I am living in my time, and the day will come when I am here no longer. Somebody I do not know prepared meals for her family. She is gone now, and although I am surrounded by what was familiar to her, it tells me nothing about her. When I am gone, there will be someone else who follows me into that kitchen, and she will prepare meals in the place that is familiar to me, but tells her nothing about me, and who I am.
I think about that. When we are young, we have big dreams of making a mark in this world, but the truth is, most of us won't. Most of us will live out our lives in our quiet corner of the world, and when we are done living out that life, there will be nothing left to remind the world of who we are (were?)
I scrape the floor and ponder these things.
I am glad that I am so mindful of my place in this world, my place in this time. I'm also glad that my mind allows me to roam freely between what was, and what is, and what comes next. I'm glad that it doesn't bother me to be an insignificant person in my corner of the world, observing the wonders of it all.