Artwork by C. Pembroke

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On Creativity

Freedom is not Free
On Housework


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© C Pembroke 2018

On Housework

She wet her thumbs, pressing bangs to either side of my forehead. I was in a stifling dress-- made up proper-- and felt no joy. Other days, mom jumped up to leaf through National Geographic at the slightest query. Her enthusiasm for the exotic snagged my interest. It was this I valued.

For twenty years I associated good posture, shined boots, and waxed floors with stifling dresses and straight parts. I rebelled and slouched. I was proud of a belching phase when I held the title, "Beer Woman." No matter how dressed up my conventional circumstances requested I be, I liked to add a touch of clash to the mix. What drove me? I think it was the darkness around mom's eyes as she scrubbed the kitchen floor.

Much later I met Jim. He dusted a few objects and in his intentionality, created a space that stood apart. When he finished washing the dishes, he wiped his hands and folded the towel the same way each time-- Job done. This gnawed on me a while. With mom I inferred that cleaning was an unthankful job, something not nearly so interesting as the world outside the home. With Jim it meant things entirely different, but I wasn't quite sure what.

Surely the military had something to do with it. Spit polishing boots started out as a chore, but became a statement of worthiness. Poverty too-- acknowledging food and a safe home, not taking for granted the steadfast work needed to keep going. I recognized in myself that laziness had overtaken rebellion. Something similar has happened in our society. It's time to gather intentionality, take pride, and spend time on cleanliness.

My first change was to make the bed every morning. Not the way I was taught as a child-- with the tri-folded edges at the base that were too tight. No pillow shams. Instead I focused on keeping the sheets and blankets perfectly centered, and the two pillows fluffed on top. The centered blankets fulfilled my desire for an even doling of resources. And the fluffed pillows looked inviting.

Then I tackled the dishes. I had long felt uncomfortable with a perfectly clean sink. Too much closure. I liked to keep about me the illusion that because I had dirty dishes I was busy, and because I was busy, I was doing something important in the world. It was a comforting illusion, and I miss it. But I am starting to find things to like about done-ness.

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