As I walk into the kitchen to make myself a well-earned cup of tea, excited to take a break from studying, my attention is caught by a mild pain, caused by something small stinging in my foot. As I inspect the floor looking for a suspect – a nutshell, a sharp piece of plastic, broken glass – I come to a horrible realization: This floor has not been cleaned in ages!
The pain in my foot has faded, and so have my study break plans. Armed with a vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies that look so stained that I am not sure they will actually make things cleaner, I stand in the middle of our kitchen. “I hate doing this”, I say to myself, as I look at the little area below the kitchen counter. It’s easy to miss that part of the floor when cleaning, resulting in a week-, month-, or who-knows-how-old pile up of culinary waste: onion peels, tiny twigs and leaves, paprika chips, the layer of wax that’s on the outside of a block of cheese, grains of rice, and many inexplicable stains.
I take no shame in saying that I hate cleaning up, I have always considered it as one of those things that objectively suck. And yet… seeing the pile up of dust and crumbs underneath the counter, I fall subject to an uncontrollable, instinctive urge. A side of myself I barely know takes control of me. Disgust makes way for combativeness. Cheered on by the struggling screams of a vacuum cleaner that has lived through better days than today, I engage in my battle.
When I’m done vacuuming, the sense of victory and satisfaction that I feel is similar to what it felt like completing my last deadline last semester. This feeling is so strong, so addictive, that even though the living room looks cleaner than I’ve seen it in many weeks, I am not ready to stop. Not yet. I kneel down to inspect the inexplicable, dark stain below the door of the dishwasher, and notice many other stains. While my mind tells me I should feel frustrated by this disgusting indicator of a house-wide attitude of negligence towards kitchen hygiene, my heart feels something else: excitement.
Wielding my spray bottle of cleaning agent in my left hand, a cleaning cloth in my right, I focus on these stains. Watching the dried milk and other unknown substances slowly disappear as I repeatedly rub the cloth on the floor is calming, therapeutic. “Who needs meditation when there’s kitchens to be cleaned?” I think to myself. Like a kid with their Lego’s, I sit on the floor with my cleaning supplies, thriving, enjoying what I’m doing, and completely unaware of life, space, and time beyond the little world in front of me.
Once the unfortunate conclusion that there is not a square inch of kitchen left to clean forces me to leave my state of hyper fixation, I realize how tired I am. Looking at the clock, it takes all the willpower I have left to not calculate how few hours I still have before my alarm goes off. My readings? Worries for another day, I have done enough. With a satisfied feeling, a feeling of accomplishment, I go to bed.
Goodnight everyone, remember to clean the house every once in a while. It can be surprisingly fun.
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