A quest for change


About mid-January I convinced myself that my home was desperately in need of new flooring. The winter blahs had dug in and my husband’s wet, snowy shoes were leaving the same sad black trails from the entry to the kitchen that they do every year. I was positive that the carpet, in its current state, was making me ill, full of impossible-to-remove, harmful allergens. A deep clean wasn’t going to cut it this year, as it has every year since moving into our little condo; we just needed a change.

I started scanning the fliers that came in the mail for special offers. I scribbled down phone numbers that flashed across the bottom of the TV screen, ads that promised one-day installation. I took mental note when I drove past some little cement building that, up until only a short time ago, had looked vacant when I drove by, its windows now emblazoned with posters practically screaming that the best deal all year was available for one weekend and one weekend only, no payment down, no interest until 2012.

The sheer number of flooring stores that had suddenly sprung up amazed me. It couldn’t be a coincidence. They were all over, it seemed, almost as if the universe was guiding me to these places, purposefully placing them in my path.

“Did you just open?” I asked the salesman who worked in the otherwise nondescript building I’d never noticed just down the street from my home, a warehouse stacked floor to ceiling with so many choices, rolls of shag, plush, berber.

“We’ve been here,” he said. “It’s just that you’re in the market for what we have right now. And when you’re searching for something specific, you suddenly notice its presence everywhere.”

Well, of course! This little hit of wisdom struck me as incredibly deep as I stood there surrounded by towers of rugs. Maybe this was just a Murphy’s law-type adage that salespeople consistently used, but maybe (and I prefer this take) it was just one of those simple rules of the universe: If something applies to you, you are much more hypersensitive to its existence.

I shared what I called “the carpet theory” with a friend in a phone conversation later that day. This particular friend, a woman who claims no interest or association in politics, took the theory and applied it to her own week.

“It’s like the 2008 presidential campaign,” she said in agreement. “Suddenly it seems to be everywhere.”

“But that actually is everywhere,” I reminded her. In a matter of moments how had we moved from carpet to campaigns?

“Maybe. But you know I’ve never paid attention to that kind of thing before,” she paused, for effect, before going on. “I think the universe must be telling me that I really need to participate this time around.”

“Well,” I said, “it’s probably just that you’re looking for something different in the way this country is run right now.”

“I am!” she said.

“And when you’re looking for something specific, you notice its presence everywhere. You’re acutely aware of it,” I added, using the carpet guy’s words and throwing in a tag of my own. “You’re in the market for change, so you’re really seeing all the possibilities that point in that direction.” It sounded good.

“That’s so true,” she sighed. “I just really feel that this time there are actual choices for me.” We both sighed and let that thought hang between us over the phone.

By the time most of you read this, the Republican Party of Minnesota, the DFL, and the Independence Party of Minnesota will have wrapped up their caucuses on “Super Duper Tuesday” to identify initial preferences for a presidential nominee. At this point, I can only wonder how many people are like my formerly apolitical friend, realizing they want to show up, invest in change and make their voices heard this time around. I wonder how many people are seeing things in a way that suddenly seems applicable to them, feeling hopeful about a different type of representation?

I’ve stopped searching for carpet. There actually is a lot of it out there, and it’s become a grail quest of sorts, the hunt for a deal that never quite materializes. On the political forefront, I’ve got things narrowed down, though; after all, I’m in the market for change so I’m really looking at the possibilities that point in that direction. And it does sound good.

Tami Mohamed Brown lives in Bloomington with her family.