Yesterday was cleaning day, that day just before Thanksgiving when Pam gets it in her head that before the holidays can begin, we must first scrub and disinfect every square inch of our house. The benefits of all of this cleaning are emotional only, since as soon as the Christmas decorations come pouring forth from the attic, new festive dirt will replace the dirt we just labored so mightily to remove. Nevertheless, there I was yesterday around 8:30 AM, assigned the upstairs quadrant, with instructions to make it shine.
The day was happily reminiscent of our first year of marriage when every Saturday morning the two of us would clean our tiny apartment from head to toe. Then we would have breakfast. Oh for the days of 900 square feet and a lease that included utilities! Still, we actually enjoyed cleaning the place back then. It was all a part of the playing–house syndrome that newlyweds briefly enjoy before children arrive and cleaning the house falls to number 46 on the to-do list right after “climb Mt. Everest.” Yesterday started out with something very close to that old feeling. Then I started to actually look around at the place.
When you live somewhere, it’s easy not to pay attention to the details. Our house isn’t unruly and chaotic. In fact, most of the time visitors would say that it is always quite tidy. But, when it’s time to clean and you notice that the door casings are coated with dust, and a strange brownish-yellow film has settled on the top edge of your baseboards, well…eeewwww!
So, there I was vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing toilets, sorting through the small clusters of stuff that have grown up like mushrooms after a week of rain. You know what I mean. It’s those “life piles” that you make with things that your inner voice tells you that you shouldn’t throw away just yet. After several months these piles grow to prodigious heights, yet you still can’t bring yourself to do anything about it, except to throw the ticket stubs from the movie you just went to onto the top. Well, yesterday that all ended. Sure glad I thought to save that empty tube of Blistex and the church bulletin from August 12, 2012!
Everything was going well. Pam was downstairs buffing a high gloss shine on the appliances, mopping the hard wood floors and occasionally mumbling “disgusting!” when changing the Swiffer pad. I was wiping off the ceiling fan blades, removing entire eco-systems that had settled there, scrubbing the doors in our bedroom, removing whatever that weird film was that had attached itself to every slanted surface. Then, it happened.
My maniacal door scrubbing brought me to that spot on the outside of our bedroom door about 12 inches from the floor. It was brown and worn. I stopped and fought back a wave of sadness. This was the place where Molly would shove the door open with her big nose when it was time for bed. I pictured her lowering her head and pushing through and then smiling at us as she made her way into the bathroom and its cool tile floor. I hesitated, touched the spot with my hand and thought of how much I will miss her this Christmas. Then I scrubbed it clean and immediately regretted my decision.
I have been fighting a Facebook war with Pam for the past couple of weeks, trying to change her mind about getting another dog. I have posted the cutest, most adorably irresistible puppy pictures I can find. Her response is always the same. With powerful succinctness she types, “no.” She rightfully points out that most of the day to day work associated with a new puppy falls to her. She is also correct to point out that our freedom to come and go will be curtailed mightily with a new dog, and with all of the wedding planning work to come over the next six months, house training a new puppy might be problematic. All true.
But, encountering that spot on the door reminded me that there is a spot in my heart that requires a dog. Nothing else will fill it, nothing else could.