I used to joke with my husband that when I reached a certain level of success in my writing, I wanted help with the housecleaning. Because I have tried for 15 years now, to keep a house. To keep the dirty dishes pile low enough in the sink to allow access to the water spout that I never even consider might need black guck scrubbed off of it. To make sure the children’s rooms have clear exit routes though the debris in case of fire. To keep buying enough clothes from Goodwill so that my once-a-month laundry tendencies don’t leave my family looking like they live in the sort of home they actually live in.
Well, guess what. I’ve reached a certain level of success. One where two hours of writing would pay for eight straight hours of housecleaning.
But it’s not that easy. No. I’ve made clear how dear Gus feels about the world and the acrid human filth that crawls across it’s surface. His home is his sanctuary. His only totally safe and free spot. Letting a stranger in to rifle through our K-mart receipts from 2008 would violate that.
So first, I did the lawn. I got Juan. Two hours of writing pays for an entire month of lawn care. Our yard was a dead albatross hung around my husband’s neck, stinking of hassle and guilt. Now it is tidy. They, I took away money management. I got an accountant to compensate for the confusion my income added to our intake. I have to write quite a few hours for him, but that’s fine. I’ll just throw together a coupla lists of weird crafts from Pinterest and presto…all taken care of.
And yet, though we were becoming the sort of people who don’t need nor deserve to live in wreckage, we still did. Because I am lazy, and revolt against any sort of responsibility that does not gratify me, like writing does. I have never learned to work, properly. I only learned how to do school type work. And what is writing but a continuation of a lifetime of essays and thesis and writing grammar exercises? I’m well practiced, so it comes fairly easy.
So do I shame myself and pinch my upper arm into bruised pulp in punishment for not being a good person? Or do I say “Oh fuck off, Misery. I can do other cool stuff,” and hire a damned housekeeper???
Approaching the matter with Gus, as gently as I could, was hard. He shut down, disgusted by the idea of someone knowing how we live!!! I have never pretended to be anything BUT a total slob, but Gus believes closed curtains and no visitors makes us able to pass for a family of Normals.
But Gus is kind, and he loves me. He conceded with a tight voice and a face full of misery.
Yesterday Misty came. She’s my age, owns the business herself, stout, but powerful and inexhaustible. We talked for four hours. She worked steady, I helped her at a patchy pace and then by mumbling from a heap on the floor,”Nah…they’ll never even know it’s gone. Goodwill!”
In four hours, we removed from my house, like pus from a wound, four large boxes for Goodwill, two full garbage bags, four boxes of books (put in the garage). We filled the recycle bin to overflow and shoved two full tubs of toys back into the wreckage of the children’s rooms.
That was only two areas. The living and dining area of my small house.
I cannot say enough what a difference her help is going to make. I can’t get used to this…slowly stepping up into the person I always wanted to be but despaired as impossible.
All I want now is like a really great pair of jeans.