This little hobbit house. I can count on one finger the amount of times I have cleaned it, like scrub cleaned the way I was taught when I was a girl.
When I was clean, like sober clean, almost two years, I had moved into my first place just for me, no roommates. It was a studio on the third floor of an old colonial house in a colonial riverfront town in rural Maryland. There was no air. In the summer the oxygen was thick as canned paint. We would ice each other down and you couldn’t tell the difference between melted water and sweat. The ceilings of the place slanted at an angle so that I ditched the frame of my futon–the one I’d flopped on all through college, through dropping out twice but finally finishing at 25–so I could just entertain guests on the mattress, backed up L-shape partly against the wall, sitting part on the floor. We ate and drank tea, a “magic blend” from herbs I’d cut and dried and blessed, around an antique, knee high table. The guests were girls I knew from being clean or else mostly friends of the honey-eyed local townie boy I was so in love with back then.
That was my first real, adult love. In my first just for me place, he slept over every night. We had two twin beds pushed together so that we could stretch out. It was hard to avoid the crack. My dad gave me those beds during his mid-life crisis. Dad quit his job and put his condo in Northern Virginia on the market all in one day. The beds at dad’s had been for my brother and I to visit. In six years I’d slept at his place twice. In my apartment, which we called Mt. Vernon after the street it was on, the beds were in a corner of the one big room, which besides the kitchen and a little closet-sized room I used for writing and meditating, was all it was. I put a white gauzy curtain around those beds, so it would seem like a private, sacred place for me and my man.
I used to get so neurotic there about cleaning. I hated cleaning. It was some weird, unconscious body strain that would take over me. I would clean, scrub clean and it would take days. Two usually. He would come home, to my home which wasn’t technically his, and this unspoken tension would limit the air between us. I would be angry at him, for a reason deeper than us, unspoken, in my DNA.
He moved in to Mt. Vernon eventually. And later, it happened every place we ever lived. The trailer on Oregon’s central coast which was his step-brother’s that we crashed in while they were in Mexico teaching people how to surf. The mother-in-law suite further up coast, where we never got our deposit back because for once I refused to clean, and instead, as we were leaving hired someone to do it for us. And the landlady said we didn’t clean and jipped us our couple hundred dollars which we really needed because we were living again on the road. It happened at Truslow, that magical place where our organic veggie garden was its own wild country, and lettuce was knee tall and swiss chard was big enough to be a sunhat on your head. And it happened the worst on the farm, Anngar, where we had four bedrooms and two storage rooms above the old kitchen where the “servants” (the farm’s owner said with a grin) years back on that old southern farm, used to live. Once monthly or so, I would decide it was time to clean which, even if I tried not to, never happened without me getting mad. I would get so resentful, turn in to such a martyr, and when I would try to talk about it I never had the words. Just a blank hanging stress that was its own form, and was bigger than me, and made me disinterested or passive, which is the most rotten kind of mean. The body holds what the heart doesn’t want to know.
In February at the time of First Seed moon I knew in my muscles I needed to clean this place, and to start in the room behind my closet where I used to write. Ever since I moved my desk out to the main part of the hobbit pad that other little room is thrashed with storage and random shit. In the magical way that wisdom moves uncertain but clear through the blood I’ve known that I needed a true spring cleaning. So this weekend that’s what I did. I am sitting here now, so thankful, so peaceful and with such motivated energy for so many other areas of my life which until now felt deadened to me. My place had become a distraction, it needed a re-boot. I am sitting here now, considering why I hadn’t cleaned.
Making room for that to change.