By Cynthia Balderman
I’m allergic to cleaning. Mere contemplation of rooting through the accumulation of clothing, toys and mementos I’ve collected in nearly 40 years causes me to develop hives.
There is nothing I like less than a quiet day spent at home, contemplating the dust bunnies multiplying under my family room sofa. I’m happy to race off on Monday morning, driving from one court to another to argue my clients’ positions, gossip with colleagues and drink lukewarm vending machine coffee. If I spend weekends playing with my grandchildren, preparing a Sabbath dinner and reminiscing with my parents, the week has been perfect.
Then came the quarantine. Shocked to find we are not included in the list of essential professions, my office abruptly closed just after the court system. Time was now more plentiful than the job I had heretofore used to soak it up.
My excuse that I had to work gone, I now felt compelled to take care of many long-delayed tasks that had accumulated at home. I decided to start with my late husband’s office. I have barely looked at the room in the past year and a half, and the job seemed overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. Walking in the room reminded me of a different life. Here was the desk he used as a shield from my pedestrian requests; a stack of index cards neatly filed in a small box; his record player and the albums I had never loved as much as he did.
I recalled the day we had wallpapered this space, converting it into a nursery in anticipation of our second baby. Housework made me unhappy even then. Five minutes with a brush and a can of glue was enough to send me back down to the kitchen to bake a cake to assuage the hubby’s disappointment when he had to tackle the whole job by himself.
Now, with no man to answer to, I decided that the best way to attack the room would be to procrastinate. First, I decided that since I am now a lady of leisure, I should go for a jog. Since I was out anyway, and had tucked gloves and a mask into my pocket, it seemed like a good time to run just a little farther to visit my parents. The extra distance and half hour of discussion about whether we could find toilet paper at one or another of the online grocers caused me to be out much later than I had planned.
By the time I got home, I was desperately in need of calorie replacement, and decided to eat an early supper. A half box of high-fiber, low-fat cereal and the remains of my milk filled me to the brim, so I needed a refreshing shower. The warm water melted my strength and I became too weak of arm and spirit to drag the vacuum cleaner upstairs.
In the meantime, the mail carrier left a few bills. That led to a quick peek at my 401(k) as I contemplated mailing in payments. Of course, checking my financial health led me to grieve a bit over the funds that were once mine and are now lost in a viral sea.
I became so disgusted, I felt I could use a half shot of nice scotch I had been saving for a special day. Of course, what could be more special than a day when I was actually about to clean out a room. Finally, I felt ready.
I started with the closet. My eyes fell on a big bag of books I had purchased at the library book sale several years ago. I counted 30. I plan to start on the rest of the room as soon as I’ve finished reading them all.
Cynthia Balderman, of Kenmore, is looking for busywork that isn't too strenuous.