The Broom ‘n Spoon sat in the middle of a vacant parking lot a block off the main drag. Built years ago as an office for used-car salesmen, the structure was tiny, deserted and seemed ready to flop down in the next windstorm. Paul, Forky and I moved in our junior year to provide us a cheap college residence with plenty of parking.
We turned each of the three sales cubicles into a bedroom, and we had one semi-working bathroom. There was a little kitchen area up front, and room for a table, a used couch and a green stuffed chair. It had all the makings of an indestructible party house.
And late Sunday mornings, Paul and I (Forky wasn’t much for cleanup duties) would scrub the place down with Comet, Windex and a blue-colored toilet cleanser that masked any odor. We then toted over to the trash bins behind the Park Place Hotel three or four big black bags that held the beer cans, pizza boxes and other flotsam from the night before.
I remember, like it was just an hour ago, returning to the yellow kitchen table, holding a cup of strong black coffee and feeling as if my life had a whole fresh start to it. The night before was gone: all the noise, the dancing, the police sirens, the drunk girls from Bridgeport, the clogged toilet, the almost-fight. It was so simple in those days. The sharp smell of ammonia and a Beach Boys album could wipe away any worries about tomorrows or guilt about yesterdays.
Fresh starts of the “Broom ‘n Spoon” variety are rarer as we age. For one thing, we collect clutter that does not fit into big black trash bags. Relationships mature and become more complex. We gather and accept responsibilities. Errors in judgment have greater consequences. And our hourglass of life has less sand at the top than it does at the bottom.
But wait, it can be a worthy trade-off as well. The untroubled freedoms of our youth are replaced by wisdom, earned through experience, and courage that allows us to take on what each new day has to serve up. We make adjustments when they are called for, and accept those things that cannot be changed. In addition, our transformed selves are better positioned to help those people whose lives we touch.
Yet today, as I have a Mindful Midweek journey back in time, I can still appreciate the insouciant, mellow memories of unencumbered Sunday mornings at the Broom ‘n Spoon.