Some time ago, so long ago I can’t remember the exact year, I fired our cleaning service.
I got sick of the constant change in personnel, constant explanations of what and how to clean, and constant dissatisfaction with the finished result. I can do better than this and pay a lot less in the process, I thought to myself. With the money I save I can treat myself to a new outfit every month, I imagined, patting myself on the back. The decision seemed like a no-brainer.
Little did I know then that I’d be consigning our home to a life of dust, dirt, and ring around the toilet bowls. It isn’t that I’m horrible at cleaning. I am, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that I simply don’t care.
And there you have it in a nutshell.
Even as a child growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, my bedroom was a natural disaster. With books, papers, games, art supplies, clothing, and stuffed animals scattered here and about, linens lying on the bed unmade, and dust bunnies clamoring for refuge, it’s a wonder I could fall asleep every night let alone spend the majority of my youth in there. But I did. For some reason, the mess never bothered me. And luckily for me, or unluckily, in retrospect, my mother coped by permanently keeping my door closed lest she be tempted to remedy the situation with a broom and bucket full of Lysol.
Let’s just say I am hygiene-challenged when it comes to my environment. I could care less about the dust building up on ceiling fans or soot taking root outside our windows. We live on a main thoroughfare, for heavens sake. People should understand my priorities don’t include scrubbing down the porch every week.
This morning, I took a good long look at the laundry room. It’s positively over flowing with clothes, some clean but wrinkled, some hanging on a rack rather than in closets, some unfolded in baskets, and some flung on the floor so long they now house a colony of hideous black beetles. Okay, I’m joking about that last part, but you get the picture. Some of the clothing our children no longer wear or need and that part I am not making up.
It’s time for the big sort and I can’t face the music. I’ve procrastinated so long I no longer have the will or ability to deal with the situation. But deal I must. Baby steps, I keep telling myself and wonder whether the words would make a good rap.
There’s our youngest daughter’s favorite camp T-shirt. Two summer’s ago, she refused to sleep in anything else. It’s covered with bunkmates’ signatures and sass from a counselor or two. “Wow. I can’t believe we lived to tell about it,” begins one. ”Will really miss your smiling face each morning. Stay sweet. You’ll need to,” chides another. Now barely a decent midriff, its time as our daughter’s nightgown has definitively come to an end.
And there packed away in a corner are distressed jeans looking entirely too small. Can I pass them down to a friend or relative? Nah. Way past the age of fashionable, plus holes in the pockets and frayed at the ends. Will our son who’s spending a year abroad even miss them when he returns?
Probably not. Trash pile.
And so it goes. Clothing invoking old memories outliving their useful lifespans, relegated to the dumpster or charitable organization, depending on their level of decrepitude. Those that deserve better slowly return to their rightful closets and drawers. Each in its own place, each place another cog in the wheel of domesticity.
As for the toilet bowls, I think it may be time to hire a new service.