I love Bartlett Street. Specifically, 305 North Bartlett. I love my neighbors here and it has been great fun getting to know the community that was here long before we arrived. Our little store is quickly becoming my home away from home and as I dive deeper into all things home décor I go to my real home at night and find myself dealing with that ugly monster named discontent.
We need new floors. It was time for new floors long before the day I put some eggs on to boil and promptly forgot. I put on my shoes, picked up my purse and got into my car. I was out of chicken feed you see. I drove the twelve or fifteen minutes down the highway to Coastal and proceeded to see squirrels. (Seeing squirrels is a term used for a person who is easily distracted.) I perused the garden department and the cookware aisle as well as the clothes and the oh so cute shoes and boots. I finally strolled leisurely through the check out when I remembered the eggs. Putting the proverbial pedal to the metal I watched for black smoke and fire trucks as I was nearing my road. Holding my breath most of the way home, I finally let it out when I knew the house was, in fact, still standing. Entering the kitchen, I was met with a stench that can only tell you all is not well. The pan, after boiling dry had seeped molten lava out its seams and welded itself to the cooktop. If that wasn’t enough it then commenced to spit exploded boiled eggs and more molten lava across the floor where it melted the flame-retardant (thank you Baby Jesus) kitchen rug to the floor and then smoldered its way through the vinyl in random hops skips and jumps across the floor. All in all, I was thanking my lucky stars that that was as bad as it got. The kitchen floor looks like a series of scabs and scars, but time passes, and other demands take up the time and the budget you keep thinking will go towards new floors. Recently I started the conversation again, yammering on about the new floors. And then I met Marty.
Marty is from our neighborhood on Bartlett Street. He is not a shop owner, but he does work hard at many jobs. He rides a bike that is usually loaded down with spare tubes and a collection of things that might make his life easier in some obscure way. He says when he can get enough parts together he builds bikes and sells them cheap to homeless people- his words not mine- Marty is missing most of his teeth, sweats profusely and is covered in tattoos. There is a tattoo of a woman’s name on his left shoulder, a wife who left him with four kids. We have had a few conversations and I know he has come to be where he is due to a series of bad choices. He owns this reality. He says he has changed and is working hard to be a better man. He listed all the businesses he does odd jobs for and he said to me with so much pride, “I am working hard every day to earn money for our motel room and since January third me and my kids have only slept under the bridge three nights.” There are a lot of self-help articles, books and exercises that can guide a person in finding a new or different perspective. Sometimes it right in front of us, covered in tattoos.
"I once complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."