CleanSweep

sweep
"We can breathe again. Not necessarily breathe any more easily, but breathe."

I've never thought of myself as a slob. Few of us believe that we're the mess makers we turn out to be for everyone else. I maintain my tidinesses quite compulsively, if quietly. My "orderly" piles of books ready to my hand. My shoes lined up just so serve me just as I intended. The Muse maintains her order, too, mysterious (to me) central organizing principles and all. Tidy for me might well constitute a mess for anyone else. I stumble over The Muse's carefully placed shoes, too. The tangles between us remain largely inadvertent, preconscious resonance of a sense of order we each absorbed long before we suspected we were absorbing anything.

Cleaning, too, echoes traditions probably predating great grand parents. The Muse's sensitivity to dust and my tenacious inability to see dust might have each originated in some pioneer days survival strategy.
Her forebears lived in sod houses, where the presence of dust might have suggested a poor work ethic. Some of mine lived on windy weed patches where dust existed as a feature never rising to the level of a problem needing eradication. I don't know. As our relationship has deepened, it has also darkened somewhat, probably inevitably. We do not share a sense of orderliness, cleanliness, or godliness, small differences earlier in our time together, growing larger as we age.

These don't qualify as irreconcilable differences, but they now stand out as more prominent distinctions one from the other. We hired housecleaners for a while, thinking that professionals might mediate some part of the challenge. They left the place smelling like a Motel 6 and curiously elevated our expectations for what constitutes adequate cleanliness. We could each perceive what they didn't leave sparkling more than what they did. When they called last week, The Muse insisted that we decline their invitation for them to drop by. We'd clean up the place ourselves.

Having early in our relationship disclosed my indifference to dust, The Muse volunteered to dust. I have an affinity for vacuuming and mopping, so I chose that chore. We'd each tackle our own bathrooms, something I do at least weekly, anyway. The kitchen stays fairly tidy, not fully satisfying either of us, but probably our most prominent shared space. We usually keep it tidy enough. The ceiling fans were trailing long veils of linty Lord Knows What, invisible if we kept them spinning, but we both climbed up the big ladder to bring down that gunk. The Muse chose to wash everything displayed on the china cabinets. I finally replaced the winter screen door glass with actual screen. We opened up the house wide to let the late Spring breezes blow the Lord Know What around. I vacuumed enough Rose The Skittish Cat fur to weave a room-sized carpet.

The family room carpet has always been impossible to keep clean. I suspect it's made of a miracle fiber that attracts greying dirt particles like an electro-magnet attracts iron. The Muse decided to pull out the carpet shampooer and have her way with that, too, moving furniture and thoroughly disrupting whatever might have been left of our old status quo. The dining room and kitchen, even the deck, quickly filled up with displaced tables and chairs. The kitchen table held lamps and African Violet cuttings. I have never learned how to use the carpet shampooer, a machine clearly designed by people who had never actually shampooed a carpet, so I made myself scarce while she washed and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed again, trying to turn the carpet back into something recognizable as its native cream color.

I managed to make just enough room to produce a dinner while Rose The Skittish Spinster Cat worried around the edges of her disrupted world. The next morning resembled the morning after we first moved in, with The Muse consulting her Feng Shui references and committed to putting the place back together differently than it was previously organized. Every organization is a compromise and my contribution tends to be helping move stuff and sound supportive, however otherwise baffled I might feel. It will be a few days before I start to recognize the place as either mine or ours again, for we executed pretty close to a CleanSweep. Out with the old and out with the relatively new, something different will follow. Our routines will remain disrupted until they aren't anymore. Cold air returns have been scoured and scrubbed. Ceiling fans have lost their trailing Lord Knows What-ness, and the drifting piles of pine tree pollen have gone. We can breathe again. Not necessarily breathe any more easily, but breathe.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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