Friday, August 29, 2008

deep cleaning

August 29th, 2008

9:26 AM

Open the blind, but just a little. Enough to let the morning air into this upstairs room. Just a bit so that I can see the outside world but it cannot see me.

Leftover coffee. A blue-jay screeching. Tires through puddles, moving down streets. Carrying people to destinations.

So where should we go, dear Stevens?

Could write about dreams from last night. People gathered round. Old friends. People I've lost touch with. All of them so very happy to see me while I felt disconnected and unhappy with them. And all of them trying to get so close. Touching. Smiling. Whispering in my ear. Offering me an elixir in a brown bottle. Something sure to make me relax, they said. But I shoved it away. Turned from them. Paid attention to the fools driving into the yard. Trying to park their cars. Tearing up the lawn. It didn't bother me that chunks of sod were flying. That cars and trucks were getting stuck. What bothered me was that these people didn't pay attention. If they'd only looked at the ground, watched where they were going, they would have been fine. There was a part of me that was excited by this—all of them being stuck in the mud—because I got to fire up my truck. Put it in four-wheel-drive. Hook up the tow strap and pull them out. One by one.

The night was made up of weird dreams. Restless sleep. Searching for comfort. On my side. Belly. Back. But the only good sleep came when S.B. rolled over, put her head on my shoulder, and wrapped an arm around me.

We're up and at it. S.B. cleaning the house. Giving it a “deep clean”, she says. We talked about the difference between my “surface cleaning” and her “deep cleaning” the other day. The surface cleaning is what I do every day as a stay-at-home Daddy. Sweeping, dishes, wiping down counter tops and sinks. Taking out garbage. Cleaning the litter box. That sort of stuff. The deep clean includes these things but is also a once a week ritual that touches the deeper parts of the house. The nooks and crannies and other hiding spots. Deep cleaning includes scrubbing and dusting, bleaching and scouring. It's getting down and dirty, going below the surface. And when it's all said and done the house smells and feels brand new.

Today's cleaning also has a little added significance. My parents are coming tomorrow. Finally. After months of poking and prodding, they've finally made some time to come see our home, our neighborhood, our big backyard and trees. My folks don't travel much. They never have. So for them to make the 250 mile drive south, down freeways, into crazy traffic, and into unknown territory is amazing.

I'm looking forward to it. The older I get, the more I appreciate and understand my parents. Especially now. Being married. Having a son. Doing what we can to make things good more often than they are bad. I see all the work, frustration, sweat and tears that went into raising me and my brothers. It just astounds me. They were not perfect parents. They made mistakes. There were wrongs. Things were not always as they seemed. But the fact of the matter is they did their very best and sacrificed much so that they could raise three boys into three men. And by God, they did it right. Me and my brothers are not perfect. Each of us will tell you that. But we also know that we turned out pretty damned good despite all the efforts we've made in our lives to turn out bad.

And so, having my folks drive from our little old hometown up in the north country to the hustle-bustle of the city, means a great deal. It will be so nice just having them here. Spending time with them. I doubt we'll do much sight-seeing. And I'm pretty sure we won't be hitting up any fancy restaurants. But I'd like to grill burgers for my Dad. Make a big salad for Mom. Do whatever I can so that our home feels like their home. As far as anything else goes, it doesn't really matter. Maybe we'll hit up the mall. Go to the Detroit Zoo. Walk down the street to the park. Show them around the neighborhood.

But that's not until tomorrow. A whole day away.

Today it is S.B. deep cleaning. Little Man playing. And Daddy upstairs. Slinging together words. Hoping to one day make us a living at this. Fingers at the keys. Blinds open. Just a little. Enough to let the morning air into this upstairs room. Just a bit. So that I can see the outside world, but it cannot see me.

~ K.J.

(copyright © 2008 by K.J. Stevens)

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