Cleaning Where We Left Off Picking Up


I said goodbye as I left our house, knowing I’d never see it again. I would be coming back to the same address, and all of our animals and things would be there, but it would be a different house. It would be clean.

It’s not that we never clean, but we do it piecemeal — a room (or area) at a time — and typically when we’ve passed our breaking point and are forced to acknowledge the necessity. We both work full-time and have an array of interests and hobbies that are all much more compelling than scrubbing floors. Yet, we want to live in a clean space, where things do not stick to our cats.

Up until now, we’ve comprised. We did as we pleased until the cats looked like a dorm room carpet, and then we’d grudgingly set aside our distractions and make things a bit less squalid. That accomplished, we’d observe that this would all be much easier if we cleaned more regularly, which is exactly what we wouldn’t do.

Well, something had to break, aside from the CD jewel cases I stepped on a few months ago.

Last Friday, a house cleaner came over to give us a quote. She gave a reasonable quote and didn’t bat an eye at the clutter. We spent the weekend picking up and sorting, making the house fit to be cleaned. Boxes were emptied. Shelves were filled. Corners were seen again for the first time this decade.

The appointed day arrived. We said farewell to the cats and left the house, wondering what we’d find when we returned. All day, we wondered if the cleaner had come yet. We wondered if the cats would forgive us. We made a token effort to pay attention to our work.

When I got home, everything had changed but nothing was different. A few things had moved, but that wasn’t the biggest thing. A layer of neglect had been removed. It looked like responsible adults lived here.

Along with some very freaked out cats.

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