Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shedding Light on Doing The Dishes

I walk in the door and let it slam shut behind me while my bag slides from my shoulder and hits the floor with a muffled thump. No point in taking off my boots, I muse, I doubt I will be here long enough to make it worth my while...
It’s been a long trip just to find my way back home; a week gone and six hours in the car to get back to the arms of my beloved but I do have plans to slip back out again and go see an old friend before my other half gets home from work.
I walk a little ways into the kitchen and sigh softly. I might be here longer than I thought, I realize as I glance over at the counter and notice the mountain of dishes piled up. Why on earth did he let them get so stacked up, I wonder as I meander over to the kitchen. Oh well, I laugh to myself while shaking my head, it is the one thing he really hates to do so no surprise really that there are so many; he could go weeks without ever cracking the tap if he had enough dishes to last that long. I chuckle out loud now at the mental picture of him wading through a kitchen overrun with dirty plates, stepping over bowls and tiptoeing through pots that need scrubbing just so he can get to the fridge for his traditional midnight snack. Funny, I think, that I find the humour in this now when not so many years ago it would have driven me up the wall. A new life, new lessons learned and a new man suddenly has made it acceptable. No point in nit picking at the little things after working so hard to build a strong relationship filled with trust and based on the simple principal of “I love you exactly as you are”. I can’t live and work with this kind of energy around me, I think as I start reorganizing them in preparation for a bit of dish doing. Then it occurs to me while I am shifting and shuffling dishes around so I have room to work, this is kinda of a metaphor for life really. We let things slide, let them build up. We have thoughts like ‘oh I can get to that later’ and ‘will do that the first chance I get’, then wonder why all of a sudden we have this overwhelming pile of dirtiness that we feel we have to deal with immediately or else...
As I turn the tap and watch the sink begin to fill up I wonder to myself what other kinds of metaphors can be found in a sink full of week old scum. I figure I will start with a few glasses, easy to clean and best done in fresh soapy water. I begin slipping them carefully into the sink being cautious not to allow them to bang together. They are after all fragile for the most part, many of them being wine glasses (he is French) and it occurs to me yet again as I lean against the sink to watch the suds build up there is a whole lots of nastiness being hidden by those soft looking bubbles of pure white soap. We are back to that life thing again and the illusion of cleanliness that is presented to us sometimes by others. We see their outward smiles and hear their smooth words and assume everything underneath is as calm and sweet smelling as what we see on the surface. Of course dig a little, dare to put your hand into the water and well you just might find there is a whole lot of buried work that needs to be done. Argh...; the water is too hot, I can feel myself getting irritated now, perfect now I will have to wait....
Of course typical of many of the other things in life that we do I am not really in the mood to wait for the water to cool so I reach in to pull the plug just a hair to let out a little bit of hot so I can add some cold. Forgetting that the sink is filled with fragile glassware I manage to knock a few together in my rush to not feel the heat for too long. I hear a very muffled clink and smash. Oh what fun, now we have sink full of too hot water and broken glass, impatience it seems will get you every time. Ok, I am thinking that means take a step back and assess or rest, and I acknowledge if I had not rushed it in the first place this would not be an issue. So off to the stereo I go to find myself some music and to kill some time and lose myself in the flipping of stations in search of that perfect song to calm my nerves. Relying on an outside source to make it better rather than just taking a deep breath and letting myself be still a moment. Of course there is nothing wrong with music, it does make work go a lot faster when you can lose yourself in a good tune but the search for the perfect song maybe might be a bit silly given that if you have a favourite station chances are if you tune into that you will hear your much needed, most loved ballad soon enough. Alright music is on and what next, oh yes might as well seek out a clean wine glass and pour myself a bit of red to drink in between loads. After all there are a tonne of dishes to do and I am guessing I might just be here for the rest of the night; that visit to my friend can wait it seems unitl tomorrow. (Yes you noticed we are back to putting things off). Oh yes back to the dishes, that is what I was doing ...
So I stick my hand back in the water which has now cooled nicely and grab at one of the hidden glasses cloth in hand with every intention of getting started with the scrubbing; and quickly pull my hand back out cursing under my breathe because now I have a nice deep cut in my tender flesh. I got distracted, yes I did, with looking for the sweet spot on the radio dial and pouring myself a touch of liquid courage to ease the burden of the work ahead. I forgot about the dangers of sharp shards lurking below the snow white froth. Alright, I scold myself as I allow the cold water to flush away the deep red oozing from my finger, you really ought to get it together here, doing the dishes should not be so bloody (insert bad pun) hard...
In the bathroom now and I notice after a quick glance in the mirror that I look a tad tired today. No matter I will rest soon enough just a quick bandaging up, slip on a glove, bang off some washing and off to the couch to relax long before he walks in the door. How hard can it be...
And how many times in life have we all said that...
Back in the kitchen and lesson learned for today, I am carefully placing my other hand (yes that’s right, glove or not I am still a wee bit protective of my damaged hand) back into the water to drain it. Even though it has gone cold it is still murky and I am not willing to feel around for the rest of the shattered glass. Which reminds me, if I had followed my first instinct which was to keep one breakable thing from coming into contact with the other breakable things I would not be so far behind right now. Another glimpse into the human heart and mind; because when you really mull that one over you just know you have been down that road before either with regards to work, friends, lovers and just life in general. There are times when our brain is screaming at us “no no no – those two things just do not mix” yet we do it anyways because we figure we are smart enough to be careful and cautious in our approach. Have you ever dated somebody you worked with, or tried to date a long time friend? How about going into business with a family member? Only a few examples but poignant ones if you have ever traveled down that road...
Oh yes; doing the dishes...
Right well the glass has been scooped out and unceremoniously dumped into the recycle bin (too long a metaphor to explain but it will give you something to think on later) and the sink is once again almost full. This time I have opted to wash one glass at a time; much smarter move and it seems for the moment to be working. My finger does not hurt nearly as much as I thought it would but the sips of wine in between glasses might be helping that. The music has been turned up to drown my occasional mumbles of angst and I am well on my way to getting some plates done. Thankfully we are prepared for large loads and have several dish trays so space is something I have to spare and I can keep dipping, sloshing, wiping and rinsing. Plates and bowls slip in and out of the water and the silver ware is in the sink to soak, except of course the knives which I have placed carefully on the side of the sink. Now the rhythm of the dish dance takes hold and my mind wanders all over the place as my body goes through the motions of doing its duty. I reach for another plate and accidently knock a knife into the water; something I do not notice until yes that’s right, you guessed it, I am back in the bathroom digging around for another bandage in the medicine cabinet and wondering, is it really worth it?
And now we get down the crux of the matter....
Is it worth it? On a night when I am worn out, distracted and not all together aware of my surroundings who exactly am I doing the dishes for...
Am I really doing them for me; when nothing seems to be going that well and knowing that tonight of all nights I will have no desire whatsoever to write or to paint, does it much matter if the space in which I live is all spit shined and polished. We have dishes to eat with if we need them, there are still clean pots with which to cook...
Am I doing this for him? Barring the fact that he has been living like this for some time now without any type of internal issues about comfort do I know so little about him as to assume that it will actually make a difference in his mood when he walks in the door whether or not ‘surprise baby the dishes are done’...
Who am I kidding, he simply doesn’t care and even though it would be nice to have it done for him he will still be happy to see me regardless of the dishes being done or not.
Ok; decision made. I wander back into the kitchen to assess exactly how much more time I ought to invest in this endeavour; if there is too much left to do then quite frankly it is just going to have to wait for morning. Interestingly enough it occurs to me that all my drain boards are now full and the only way I will be doing any more dishes tonight would be to dry a few of the ones that are on the drain tray. Now given my recent experience with breakable and sharp objects and having come to the acceptance that I am on the more clumsy side of graceful at the moment, it may not be in my best interest to push forward. As I lean over the counter to pick up my wine glass with one bandaged hand, while filling it from the bottle in my other bandaged hand, the final metaphor of the evening hits home. It is simply best for me if I just opt out of the action, sit back relax and let the dishes air dry... Mom did always say after all that God does a much better job of drying the dishes than man ever could.
Moments later with the radio off, the TV on and my feet up, the door opens and my darling enters with a take-out dinner in one hand, a wine bottle in the other and lots of room in his arms left for me.
Jean Victoria Norloch
www.feenxrising.com
This blog was inspired by a good friend of mine by the name of Lucien who offered me once some overwhelming encouragement by way of the statement ‘I do believe you are the only person I know who could make doing the dishes sound interesting’ during a time when self doubt and self loathing were a huge part of my everyday existence. I didn’t believe him, and I took it as a challenge to push myself and see if I actually could pull of making doing the dishes even remotely interesting. Little bit of what if mixed with some memories of my old scrubbing days and out came ‘Shedding Light on Doing The dishes’ The name ‘Lucien’ stands for Light and therefore by way of gratitude I have named this odd little piece after him. My way of saying thanks for not giving up on me when I can be so good at giving up on myself.

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