There are a lot of words pinging around in that space inside my head -- sometimes they come together and make some kind of sense. When they do, I put them here, to make room for more.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I am grout -- are you?

I am grout.

Awhile back when I was chatting with my friend Jeff, he described his wife as being grout. “You know,” he said, “she fills in all the bare spaces in the family.” I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant by that, but filed it away in the back of my mind, taking it out every now and again to think about it.

I now know exactly what it means. Because I am grout.

Grout, you may recall, is the (usually fairly colorless) cement-type stuff that goes between the tiles. It connects them to one another, and keeps them from popping up off the floor or wall or wherever it is the tiles are, but you don’t really notice it unless it’s not there.

And I realized, in my little home here, this is what I do: I silently fill in the spaces between the important happenings in the family. Because of me, food appears in the pantry, clean clothes show up in bedrooms, cobwebs disappear from corners. Kids get ferried from school to hockey rink to SAT prep class; snacks and dinner magically appear, noone has to think about any of it. It all just happens.

But here’s the thing about grout: you don’t pay attention to it because you’re too busy looking at the fancy tile. The tile that’s a pretty color, or has a cool pattern; it’s the tile that catches your eye, while the grout does the hard – and thankless – work of keeping the tile in place. Noone ever thinks about the grout, or the fact that the tile would just flounder around without it.

So every now and then, this grout likes to take a break, leave the tile for a while to fend for itself. It happens rarely, but when it does, it’s oh so rewarding. For everyone. Because that’s usually all it takes for the tile to realize just how important, and very very nice it is, to have that grout there, keeping it all together.

If only that feeling would last…