A Month Of Messes

Mr. Clean Is My New Guru

A Month Of Messes

First, let me straighten up the front hall.

You may have noticed a pause in this space. A little lull. (You may not have noticed anything was amiss, and that’s fine too. Hi. So glad you dropped by.) If, however, ran your fingertip along this URL and came away with a little halo of dust on your fingertip, I apologize. I have been too quiet in this corner of my virtual and creative house. Nevertheless, here we are. It is good to be back.

Come on in, but watch your step.

It was a month of messes. Not the "hot mess" kind of messes (though that did threaten after a while), the ordinary-life sort of messes. Spilled milk on a grown up scale.

It began with a long, old, bay window casement that crumbled inward, spewing what can only be described as black crumbly matter. Like zombie cookie dough. Like please call Indiana Jones for me because I do not want to put my hand in that frightening archeological hole. Turned out to be hive debris and wasp carcasses. Some years-dead, some last summer “exterminated,” some quite alive and very angry. We ripped the whole thing open and found a monster hive that ran the length of the casement and had both thinned and rotted our walls. 

Very shortly afterward, there was a plumbing leak. Then another. Then a third. Not related, all leading inevitably to holes ripped in ceilings and pipes repaired.

Meanwhile, my personal “plumbing” was hit with a violent bout of food poisoning which left me shivering and retching and clutching a plastic bag in the lobby of a car rental agency while strangers averted their eyes and my family transported me carefully from place-to-summer-road-trip-place like a particularly ancient and fragile explosive.

Then one gorgeous late summer morning while moving a chair to the basement in anticipation of a visit from my in-laws — I was certain they would understand about the as-yet unpainted patches in our various ceilings but was doing my best to pretty up the place — my foot slipped in a large wet slick on the floor. Stomach sinking, I gazed ceiling-ward looking for a new drip. My other senses however were simultaneously sounding other alarms: it was very VERY wet. And slimy. And the smell was…fetid.

The main “outflow” from the house had backed up. Tree roots were to blame. My in laws spent their visit on the back porch. I spent it on my knees.

There was more, but if I told you, you would think I was making it up. Even the plumber was incredulous when I had to call him again.

Some milk with that?

So here we are, the seasons turning, the back-to-school rhythms settling, and foolishly I keep waiting for a stretch of calm,  for order to re-establish itself, for some evolved state of not-mess. And yet. School, work, life; all exert their pressures, and nothing is slowing down. Nothing ever does.

This has all been a not-so-gentle reminder (because we all know this, fundamentally, deep in our ever-changing cells) that order is a mirage. There is a reason the goddesses of life — Shakti, Diana, Tlalteutli — are also the goddesses of destruction. Waiting for life to stop handing us messes, the daily spilled milk kind and the doozies, is to miss the point. We are here to roll up our sleeves.

Will you yell or cry or freeze or run when the messes happen? Or will you get down on your knees, that humble place we all find ourselves, that place where we are human and equal in grief, in joy, in prayer, in despondency and yes, in excrement (as any mother who has toilet trained a toddler will tell you), and do your best to gracefully accept the constantly demanding act of mess management as your daily practice.