Today I bought a rug.
Two rugs actually.
With the help of men with real upper body strength, we sifted through a stack, 40 deep, of rugs straight off the boat from Europe. Old rugs that smelled of old dirt, of old houses, old shops. Real rugs with fringe slightly shorter on this side, the warp discolored from feet 5000 miles away, the design clearly visible on both sides. We folded them over one at a time, inspecting palette, pattern, feeling the pile and imagining it beneath my own toes.
I took pictures on my phone, matching them with lot numbers, and then sat in the back swiping between the images, deciding on two.
203: that was my bidder number. I've gone to a number of auctions now, always the spectator. I had no idea the rush of adrenaline I would feel as my predestined rug was lifted. I was bidding to win, whatever that might mean. My arm instinctively cut through the air with any energy that surprised even me. My eyes darted around the room looking for competitive hands. I defended my rug.
"Sold to number 203."
I was shocked and elated by my success. My grin was felt wide and cheesy. An hour and a plethora of "fine antiquities and stuff" later (as we would describe it on the ride home), rugs #525 an #534 were mine. The 'win' felt good both times.
Stuffed unceremoniously in the back of a green Ford Ranger, a pile of twisted, knotted ropes merely (and hilariously) draped over them, my rugs continued their journey from Paris to Houston to San Antonio to their new home in my neck of the suburbs. But first a layover at my guy's apartment while my floors are being torn up this week.
John balanced them over his shoulder as he hauled them up three flights of stairs. The door closed, and without pause the first of the rugs unfurled with the same excitement I felt spreading through my body. It was beautiful. 6'6"X10'3" of beautiful vintage art. These aren't rugs that simply cushion your step or pick up on accent colors. These are heirlooms that will live a second (maybe third) lifetime in a new home with a new family. The sounds, smells, conversations, the tiny dogs lying in sunny spots may all be dramatically different from its previous residence, but the rhythm of life that traverses above is strangely (and wonderfully) the same!
Atop the first, we unrolled the second. A slightly longer, a bit more narrow, the rug with an original handwritten label reading "hand knotted"perfectly compliments the first in every way. Most assuredly woven at separate times by separate hands, these rugs were destined to live side by side bearing witness to the silliness of some band director and her two spoiled doglets a world away from their Persian beginnings. As John speculated what sorts of discussions and arguments must have taken place while standing on these very fibers, I imagined the same dirt carried by my own feet as I discovered the streets of Paris now years ago, that very same dirt embedding itself into this very rug by way of a pair of shoes coming home from work on the Left Bank, or several pair of feet returning from coffee at a cafe on Rue de l'Université. I imagined how these rugs will look in a few days spread on my floors, surrounded by my furniture with the rhythm of my life pounding down on a pattern that has stared at the ceilings of any multitude of homes or apartments on another continent at another time, long before I was even part of this world.
Perhaps I romanticize beyond what most people see in a pile of rugs. But these are not some straight-from-the-factory Crate and Barrel woolen creation, trendy but disposable at best. These are lived-on, mature, experienced pieces of history that just happened to find their way into my home, into my life, to continue their existence probably beyond my own, adding my days to the (maybe) century's worth of moments before mine.
Today I bought a rug. Two.
In actuality I bought a piece of someone's story.