If The Lights Are On…

Dearest Rachel –

I’ll be honest, the thing that pulls me away from work today (and it does so earlier than yesterday, so my working window is that much smaller) isn’t nearly as unusual as yesterday’s visit from Lisa to finalize the remodel. Although, now that I think about it, the reason I’m coming home late this morning is essentially for the same reason; while Kris does need to be let into the house in order to clean it, my concern is that I be there once she’s done, so that I can pay her right away, and not leave myself owing her until whenever the next time comes around.

Yes, that’s right; it’s time for that every two or three week cleaning session around the house. It’s not the sort of thing you would have permitted back in the day; partly because, until two years before your departure, we would have been hard-pressed to swing those hourly rates, but also primarily because I think you saw housekeeping as your responsibility, as you didn’t work outside the house. As a result, you didn’t want anyone messing with your system, since that was yours to take care of.

And while I may have been hard pressed to comprehend it, even as close to it as I was, you did seem to have a system. You could find just about anything anywhere within the house, despite the clutter. Indeed, even as neat and tidy (relatively speaking) as the place is now, Daniel and I still can’t find things from time to time, and have more than once attempted to invoke your spirit to assist us in our generally fruitless quests. I wouldn’t say that you rendered us helpless in that regard – I think that, as guys, we may just be naturally inept at this sort of thing – but I suppose you might have enabled us to be as helpless as we were when it came to looking for things.

Be that as it may, I’ve been coming to terms with having to deal with work around the house, but at least there is no stigma in my asking for help with it (and, thanks to your family’s legacy, no difficulty in securing professional help in that arena) like you perceived there to be for you. I wonder if you considered it an admission of failure, that you were somehow less of a woman, to do so, much like how certain guys insist on fixing things around the house rather than calling a plumber, electrician or a handyman to do it right the first time, lest they be perceived as less of a man.

Hmm… that might explain a few things about your dad – and the state your childhood home is apparently in at this point. And if so, it suggests that you came by this attitude quite honestly.

But there are plenty of things for which I don’t – or, even in my mind, shouldn’t – rely on outside help for. At home, I’m going to be cooking for myself and Daniel; if I’m going to have someone else cook for me, I’m going to go out to a restaurant (even if it’s just to pick up fast food). I also expect Daniel to take care of himself in that area if he gets hungry while I’m at the ‘office’ during the day – although that never seems to happen, or if it does, he simply grabs a container of whatever snacks his taste buds demand at the moment, whether savory or sweet. As for the cleanup, well, it takes a while to fill the dishwasher (especially if we rely too much on fast food places, with their disposable everything), but I can manage to put just about everything into it. I do appreciate that Kris is willing to wash the basket for the air fryer, though, so we try not to overuse it between her visits.

And of course, there’s the laundry, which I’m still trying to master. I’ve mentioned about the complexity of the controls on our new machines, and that’s still a thing, although I think I’ve arrived at certain settings that are more or less universal for our limited wardrobes (limited in variety, not as much in quantity, I should point out). The timing of when to put in the detergent, and the debate as to whether or not to keep reusing dryer sheets aside, I think I’ve settled into a pattern for all this.

If only I could remember what I have and haven’t done.

You see – and you’d remember this – the laundry room is off from the rest of the house, except, of course, for the master bedroom, where you might have hung out while you were doing laundry. I know you had the computer set up to stream various programs from network sites while you waited for each load to finish. For my part, though, I tend to be in the family room with Daniel – unless he’s listening to one of those programs, in which case, I’m as likely to be in the kitchen or the upstairs office. Either way, I rarely hang out much in the bedroom – after all, why should I? The emptiness is just one more reminder that you’re not there and never will be – a sensation I don’t think you ever felt when you spent your time there.

That being said, I need to remind myself to head back there when I start a load, so that I can remember to move it from the washer to the dryer, and from the dryer to a hanger and ultimately to the closet (or a dresser drawer, for socks and underwear). I generally turn the light on in the room and leave it when I head off; if nothing else, by evening, when the light becomes obvious, I can see that something needs to be done in there.

But yesterday, something went wrong with my customary routine. Maybe it was that Lisa turned the lights off when she finished taking photos. But then, I could have as easily turned the lights back on and explained my mad method – indeed, I could very well have taken the time to shift everything from washer to dryer at that moment, as I don’t recall any noise from the machine at the time, which would have meant the load of wash was finished. Odds are, between the silence of the washing machine and the unusual nature of Lisa’s visit itself, it completely vanished from my mind as to what I had yet to do in there.

And so, I didn’t give the laundry a single thought until I next walked into that room, which wasn’t until I was about to go to bed. Which in itself had gotten past me, as I’d fallen asleep in the recliner, only to discover it was nearly one in the morning. But as I passed into the room to drop off what I’d been wearing that day, I saw the lights on the washer, and realized what I’d forgotten about for so long. So, after brushing my teeth and going through just about all of my nighttime routine – at a time I’m not used to being up at, no less – I had to stay up for another hour, as the damp clothes were put through their paces in the dryer, and I had to keep myself awake to get them out and hung up immediately thereafter. Daniel was surprised when I padded back into the family room, and even more bemused when he heard my explanation. Thank heaven that in pop culture, dads are practically expected to be the bumbling types around the house, so even if he did roll his eye at my plight, it was more from amusement than exasperation. Besides, it wasn’t as if I was keeping him awake.

Anyway, in a move that you would probably find familiar, I wasn’t in bed until two (heck, you’d probably consider that to be a rookie number). But for what it’s worth, I certainly get the sensation of falling behind on housework. It doesn’t seem right that I should be losing ground in a race with an inanimate object like a house, and yet, here we are.

And given such a late bedtime, and still waking up at six (although I did roll myself over for another hour afterward), I might just take a nap this afternoon, and see if I can’t catch myself up with something other than work.

With that being said, wish me luck, honey. I might just need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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