Sunday, May 23, 2010

She's a good kid, & I have nothing to be ashamed of

It's becoming a weekly thing -- My niece pulls up in front of my place and work begins. Last Sunday she helped me organize my paperwork, this week we helped my oldest friend prepare for her mega-garage sale next weekend.

My niece was like a machine -- plugging away at the task at hand, working hard until she was done. She cleaned away dust and nail polish and then waxed a butcher block table, sorted four shelves of books, and tirelessly hauled cartons out to the POD in my friend's driveway -- even though it was the first 85ยบ+ day of the year. In nearly 4.5 hours she took only two breaks -- one for lunch and one to drink cold water and catch her breath. The second one was at my insistence because I thought I caught a quaver in her voice during her trips in and out of the heat with the heavy cartons.

"I'm fine," she insisted, rolling her eyes. "And I'm the boss of you," I countered, pressing a mug of ice water into her hand. I can't believe I actually said, "And I'm the boss of you." Teenagers bring it out in us, I guess.

Anyway, I was terribly proud of my niece. My friend was so impressed that she gave her a check for $40 and invited her to make even more money next weekend, working the garage sale. I'm going to pass on the garage sale.

While my niece was handling the physical exertion, I boxed some photographs, sorted some books, and did three loads of my friend's laundry. I devoted myself to moving clothes from washer to dryer and then folding ... and folding ... so that my friend would be able to concentrate on preparing for the sale when she comes home from her day job every day this week. (She still has lots to do.)

The three loads of wash barely dented the trail of dirty clothes that ran down the stairs and into the laundry room. I did jeans and socks and sweats and t-shirts and towels ... enough to keep my friend and her kids dressed this week. But I never got deep enough into the piles to find the bed sheets or underwear. If my niece hadn't needed to get home to do homework and prepare for school tomorrow, I could have and would have stayed on and continued doing wash for hours more.

So aside from reaffirming what a hard worker my niece is, I learned I'm not the only lazy housekeeper around here. Yes, my home could use a thorough dusting and vacuuming. Yes, I need to go through my own books and get the den in order. I admit that all that has to be done before I can begin changing the window coverings and repainting and decorating (and my bathroom and kitchen both need work -- like new caulking and grout -- desperately).

But my friend's laundry room was a real mess, and it went beyond the daunting amount of clothes that needed washing. A thin layer of laundry detergent covered her washer and dryer, and attracted dust and lint. These surfaces were so "gunked up" I didn't want the clean, damp clothes to contact them. I cleaned away what I could, using disinfectant wipes I found upstairs in her bathroom. An old kitchen curtain was actually stuck to the dryer lid. I didn't want to draw too much attention to what I was doing -- ostensibly I was sorting books with my niece and I didn't want to embarrass her about the mess I'd found.

My shrink has often told me that while it's not good that clutter has taken over my life, I need not beat myself up over it. I should just slowly but surely work toward the remedy.

I have known my friend since we were in kindergarten together, and yet I had no idea how messy her basement was, with all the dirty clothes and the pervasive smell of litter box. I still love and respect her; in fact, I feel a little closer to her now that I have seen for myself what we have discussed, that our homes have gotten away from us.

I got home and took a shower. After all, even though I was indoors her house got warm because the doors were open and I was baking in these damn support hose. So I didn't get to my own laundry tonight. But this weekend, I will do something to improve my standard of living.

3 comments:

  1. we all have those dark corners of our life...and it is okay to ask for help! sometimes when i see others struggle with the same problem i have...it just encourages me to work harder on my own!
    God does bring us together to support one another...just like your support hose...lol

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  2. Kudos to the niece! And to The Gal! My best friend is that kind of friend to me. And you're therapist is right--we need to stop beating ourselves up.

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  3. Props to the Niece of Order and hard work! YEY. (Send her here, dammit! I'll pay 20$ an hour easy!)

    It's rare someone lets us peek inside those places they don't show to the public. You have done so and honored your friend beautifully by taking care not to cause her to feel bad about it. Because, as you've admitted (and I'm right there with ya), we all have a little bit of that. It may not be in our washer/dryer area, but we all have something like that.

    YEY for doing stuff. :) I'm proud of you. Maybe we can make a meme out of it! Declutters Unite!

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