Today is for housekeeping, for housekeeping, as ridiculous as it may seem, soothes my soul. Order out of chaos, although chaos is perhaps too strong a word in this instance, order in the unordinary more accurate. My unordinary circumstances are that I find myself unexpectedly in Maryland, thirty minutes from my previous home, tending to a friend with a broken leg. And along with the challenges of care giving (in a very untidy and neglected home that I am about to clean) there is the challenge of going back to my beloved house and visiting my ex-husband (and his new girlfriend) whom I have not seen in almost 2 years. Hence the housekeeping.
Ah, the flush of a toilet, white suds to wash away shit stains, gone in an instant—instant gratification. Mold in the refrigerator, fuzzy, green, leftover memories from a dinner long ago, lifted by a magic eraser. Dust and sand and gravel under your feet swept away as if it never happened, as if you never brought dirt into the house, as if you never lived a life that somehow got very messy. The slate and horizontal surfaces are wiped clean and you stand back and look at your work with pride, with the satisfaction of knowing that you did all that you could at the time—all that you could to make living pretty again.
I know it’s not for everyone, this cleaning thing. Many find comfort in the clutter, in dust bunny pals, in the smell of worn sheets, and I’m perfectly okay with that. I never impose my clean habits on others; I don’t grimace at a sticky tablecloth nor do I care that your mail has spilled onto the floor creating yet another pile. But in my own home, where it is not uncommon for me to vacuum at 11 p.m., in my own wacky, obsessively clean, little world, I find calm in orderliness. I wash the crap away, I straighten crooked picture frames, lamp shades, I smile at my beautifully made bed—it soothes my soul.