After the long quarantine, a gaggle of grandkids take over the house. We go from quiet isolated desperation to complete chaos. I lose control within the first few hours. Lights are unplugged to accommodate electronics. Blocks, miniature vehicles, and random objects are unearthed, furniture moved, shelves rearranged.
Amazingly, I find that someone’s untangled two snarled extension chords.
Every dish is dirty, every towel smudged. It looks as though wild animals raided the kitchen cabinets and fridge.
I cry when they leave. Quiet is impending.
Howie, my husband, hauls out a few rounds of garbage, then collapses in bed. I begin the tasks of laundry and rearrangement slowly, unsystematically: a load of darks, dirty glassware and dishes found in the spare bedroom, reassembling the daybed. This is where I find the extension chords, an unclaimed computer wire and someone’s keys. I text photos of the wire and keys to my children and the wire is claimed. I set it aside to overnight in the morning.
I empty the vacuum bag in anticipation of a massive accumulation. I hate vacuuming. I think it’s unnecessarily labor intensive. I’ve hired a young woman to come in every few weeks to do the soulless repetitive household jobs of dusting and vacuuming. At this age I deserve an occasional pause from the tediousness of such tasks, but she isn’t due for weeks.
I find change and dirty socks between sofa pillows, crumbs everywhere, a quarter of a sandwich (unidentifiable) under the Moroccan bench. Hair.
I collapse after the first day of clean up. Restart the next.
What I wouldn’t give for the distraction of children’s voices, some banging on the piano, and repetitive episodes of “The Simpsons.” A clean house is the sign of…boredom.
Everything is sticky and there are stains…presumably chocolate. All the extra soap, which was stored in the spare bathroom, has been opened and piled into one soap dish. There are six used shower caps. Two plastic dinosaurs are hiding under the daybed.
The photos are in disarray. My teenage granddaughter photographed every embarrassing childhood picture of her father for the purpose of future blackmail. Howie attempts to be helpful but spends too much time looking at old photos.
I soldier on with the vacuum.
Mose is at a standstill because of a baseball game and worry…that the pitcher will injured himself, that his (Howie’s) new shoes don’t fit right and it’s too late to send them back, that his favorite pickles will be sold out at the farmer’s market tomorrow, that there’s nothing left to watch on Netflix, that I will forget where I put my credit card—again. These, among other things too ridiculous to mention.
And then, under the cabinet in the dining room I find it.
The perfect hiding place, low and dark, a minimal amount of dust. I remove a fork and stray lid, crawl in, and close my eyes.