Memoir: Rooms

The kitchen is calling me again.

Wash me.
“I’m too tired right now.”
No, you’re just too lazy.
“Fine.”

I shouldn’t complain. My husband scooped me up, so to speak, from borderline poverty and set me in a world of comparative ease.

I was struggling, for sure. I’d made a mess of my life. I’ve been to college for years, but never graduated. I gave up custody of my kids to my ex-husband years ago, and never forgave myself. I’m a self-styled “loser.” I pay my bills and have a decent job – I’m a lab assistant at the hospital – so I kept other people away for their own safety.

“Save yourself!” I cautioned them. “This woman bears a sorrow you cannot fathom.”

Sean fought through the hazy fog of resistance that no one else had ever made it through. I hadn’t made it easy.

So I do our dishes.

The truth is, I’m struggling still. I’m working much too hard for much too little pay. I sweat buckets every hour that I work at the hospital. Grizzly homeless men – mostly veterans – whine and plea, looking for shortcuts and handouts. Handcuffed felons are wheeled in by guards and put in my care. The poor and the hopeless fill up the waiting room and the hallway outside, waiting for their turn to have their blood drawn and results sent to charity clinics, the VA, and Medicaid physicians. They all seem to smell like onions and bus fumes. When I go home after 9 hours, I smell like this, too. It’s the odor of hopelessness and toil. We’re all in this together, now.

But when I get home, there’s my cat, managing to appear simultaneously smug and contrite, somehow.

He perches on the marble countertop near the kitchen sink with its spray nozzle and garbage disposal. Pretty glass bottles to put my dishwashing liquid in. The kitchen walls are lined with custom-fitted shelves and tiny Ikea jars for my spices and diffused cooking oils. It’s an American paradise.  It’s clean. It’s safe. It’s more than I could give myself. I owe this kitchen everything.

What would your grandmother say?
She’d get to work. So I do, too. And, then, as soon as the dishes are done,
What about all those piles of laundry on the bedroom floor?
“Crap.”
And here’s the cat again.
Rub me. Sit down; hold still.

Now that, I can get into. The orange couch is calling me, too.  
Come over here and procrastinate with me. What are you, a martyr?
Now we’re cookin’. I’m ready to collapse and do nothing. Quick – before someone comes home and wants something from me. Get busy being lazy.

The couch and I have made our peace.

I hate orange. My husband’s decorating sense is not terrible, because he’s not cheap, but it’s not great, either. Roomstore special, coming up.
I didn’t choose to be orange. And I’m very comfortable to sit it. I’m sorry I clash with your burgundy-colored vase, sofa chair and chair cushions.

I forgive you couch. Now let’s have a nap.

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