Pine Street Episode 167

Allison’s days were filled with working at the office supply store and her evenings and weekends filled with working on her house. Leo helped as often as he could, and worked hard to honor Allison’s request to teach her how to do stuff rather than just doing it for her.

“Just remember, I’m not a carpenter. I’m more of a crap-enter,” Leo would say, and then give her a simple, effective, hands-on lesson with a power drill, or table saw, or tile cutter.

The current project was the master bath, or what she hoped would become the master bath. They’d yarded out the old tub, its pale pink ceramic coating chipped and stained. Luckily, the floor and surround under the old tile (also pale pink, with alternate squares painted over in a sort of dingy gray, which must have seemed quite trendy at the time, or else why would anyone have done it?) was in good shape. No obvious water damage or softness, so they did not have to rip out and replace the backer board or subfloor. 

In went the new tub, a crisp white, and a lucky find at the salvage store. Someone had changed their mind before even installing it, so it was pristine. Allison wondered at the sort of lifestyle that would allow someone to discard a brand new tub based on a simple change of mind. Who has that kind of money, she pondered, and what would that feel like? Would it be glorious, or the most boring life ever?

This crisp autumn weekend, Allison allowed thoughts such as that one to drift in and out of her mind as she worked on the tile surround for her new tub. The salvage store had also had piles of beautifully glazed tiles, all the same size, but in multiple rich colors of olive green, burgundy, ochre, and midnight blue. Allison had invited Kassandra to arrange them in an artistic pattern, but after several hours of playing with the tiles, Kassandra had turned to her friend with a smile.

“You know,” the artist-barista had said, “honestly I think you’ll get the best results if you mix these randomly. Just put them in a big pile and pull each one without thinking about it too much. Colors like this, they will sort themselves into something beautiful if you trust them.”

Maybe life is like that, too, Allison thought as she placed the next tile, midnight blue next to warm ochre. It arranges itself into beauty, if we let it.

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