Cleaning

photo-1This morning, as my mother was leaving for work, she mentioned that if I was really motivated I could clean out the pantry. I told her that I doubt that I would be.

Even though I am unemployed, I keep rather busy during the days. I volunteer at an adult education center twice a week and spend a good chunk of the day searching and applying for jobs. I also am working on a book and training for a marathon, both of which are time suckers. I try to get all of these things done so that when my parents get home I can spend time with them and be mentally present. After two years away and learning a lot about the gift of presence, I really want to make these evenings count, even if it’s just dinner at Pizza Ranch or watching TV.

Yet, my parents are incredibly kind to let me stay here during the transition and every now and then I like to earn my rent, so I decided to clean the pantry. But as soon as I started I decided that the kitchen needed scrubbing too. . And the dishes. And the garbage should be taken out and the floors swept, too.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve spent so much time in front of a screen – TV, computer, my phone – that the occasional break is so refreshing. As I took a smiley-faced sponge to the counters and dishes, I felt this unusual rush of calm. The messages that needed to be sent were not a worry nor were the typical anxieties of the Internet – what so and so is doing and how that compares to my life. Instead, I listened to This American Life and polished away.

This moment made me think of Lesotho. Every afternoon after school I came home to sweep, do dishes and straighten my house. Chores always took so much more time and effort in Lesotho but they are good way to zone out and be quiet, mentally and physically. The Basotho are incredibly neat and clean people and their habits sort of wore off on me. Not that I was at all as tidy as the Basotho but, I mean, I tried, more so than I had previously in my life. It may seem like a slight to say they are really good at cleaning, but they are. Basotho take so much pride in being neat and washed and I often embarrassed when they came to my house because it was never up to their standards and they’d usually offer to sweep or wash my pots.

As I still figure out in what ways I can carry Lesotho with me, it’s nice to feel memories of that life and relate them to this one. My mom commented that my room is so much neater than it was before and it really does drive me crazy when things are out of place. It’s reassuring that these little things have come along with me and that anytime I pick up a sponge I can sort of transport back to a simpler life. It makes being separated from it so much easier.

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