I grew up in a place that housed a handful of small, locally owned lumber yards and eventually, a Menards. I know this well because my dad is a builder, a general contractor. When I was quite young, he would walk happily in the house from a day of work and I would jump in his arms. He smelled like sweat and wood and, maybe way back when, cigarettes. I would take his pencil from his pocket and put it behind my ear to “be like dad”. As I got older, Saturday mornings sometimes meant hopping in his truck with him to visit a lumber yard. After we would scope out the wood piles and load up his truck, we would go back inside to have coffee and doughnuts with his building buds. They would talk easily and joke around and I felt honored to be known by them, to be associated with my dad. After our breakfast, we would hop back in his truck to visit the latest “house”, in whatever stage of building it was in. He would explain how it was going to look, show me the plans, and get to work. I don’t really remember much about what I did while he worked, expect the smells, the sounds. I remember his quiet voice as he murmured measurements and went to using the power tools, I remember his singing to the a.m stations bad music, I remember his “whistling while he worked”. I remember the smells of freshly cut wood and glues and the ever-so-faint smell of a newly screwed screw (there really is a smell!). The smells were….amazing.
You can imagine my dad’s delight when Menards finally came to town. It became the hub of the general contracting world. Soon, because of its greater appeal, my mom joined us on those Saturday mornings and found her own niche of goods at Menards. We visited often while I dreamed of how to redecorate our house and marveled at the rows and rows of sinks, faucets, bathrooms. I loved that place. As we all got older, the town began to bring in more chain hardware stores, while still maintaining most of the locally owned ones. The visits with my dad became sparse, as we got older too. Eventually, I got married (in one of those old, shut-down, local lumber yards!), had children, and moved out of that warmly connected town. Yet, I still find myself taking the route to Menards and remembering those sweet Saturday mornings.
What does this have to do with Nothing New? Well, earlier today I had a decision to make. A couple of months ago, our bathroom floor was found rotted out and needing to be replaced. In the weeks since our discovery, I have been on Craigslist looking for ceramic tiles for the flooring. Not finding appropriate prices and locations, I asked a friend whose floor was recently done, wondering if they had leftovers we could buy? Those were lost in the shuffle between owner and builder. As I was getting my haircut last week, my friend/stylist, mentioned the Restore Store in Bigger City. That was my ticket! They housed overstock or unwanted items from building projects and I KNEW I would find Nothing New in ceramic tiles. After we dropped off Mr. inBetween, baby and I drove away on the hunt for used tiles. As I was driving away, I kind of decided I might need to stop by Menards first. Listen, I didn’t mean to actually buy anything, but…I even told baby inBetween, “Nevermind, let’s just head up to the Restore Store.” I almost turned around on the frontage road. But I didn’t. I pulled into the Menards lot instead. We got inside, were greeted, and on to the tiles. I found exactly what I wanted, in the exact quantity I needed. I loaded my cart (boxes of tiles are HEAVY, yo!) and walked to the checkouts (not without admiring the shiny new kitchen faucets on the way). I dug in my pocket for the REFUND RECEIPT leftover from a (long ago) return and paid for my tiles; all in all, I only had to actually pay $0.43. I took a big whiff on my way out the door: coffee and wood and New.
Sure, I feel a LITTLE guilty. Yet, I don’t count it a failure. I needed the tiles by tomorrow as my dad is coming early,early in the morning to stay over and work on our bathroom floor. When I was picking out the tile, a sign above read, “Take what you need, as this is what is in stock and we are not replacing it.” I weighed and filtered my rules and motivations and decided, a success for sure. It was meant to be. Now, I probably won’t fly into my dad’s arms when he arrives tomorrow, but if you’re looking for me you MIGHT find me hanging around him, listening and smelling.