[An important addendum to my last post, one I can’t believe I forgot: Granddad didn’t live to see my learning to drive. He loved cars and loved driving. I know it was a lasting disappointment to him that at the time of his death, not one of us had earned our driver’s licence, not his daughter and not one of her five adult children. I don’t know if any of my siblings has since learned to drive – one of them was taking lessons ten years ago – but I’ve been driving for a year and am now eligible to advance to the second stage of the provisional licensing system. He would have loved the fly-bys I’ve given the old house these past twelve months, and when I took Master J to the Eastern Suburbs Crematorium to visit the rose garden where Granddad and Grandma’s ashes lay, I drove us there myself. He would be chuffed about that. Toot, toot, Granddad!]
I am home alone, enjoying a couple of hours to myself while Llew and Master J visit Llew’s parents for the afternoon. The house is a mess, plus I have to go through Master J’s clothes, sorting through the many items he has busted through thanks to another recent growth spurt… More pressingly, I really must clear the piles of paper and various bits of crap that keep accumulating on those precious surfaces too high for him to reach. A quick, shame-faced glance across the room to the dining table is enough to make me feel like I really should stop writing and just TIDY UP, but some stubborn, selfish part of me doesn’t want to spend this hard-won breather doing more fucking housework. UGH. Nonetheless, here’s what’s making me feel guilty, keeping in mind this is only what I can glimpse from here on the couch: an empty serviette holder; a box for a large light globe (the box is possibly empty, possibly not); the baby monitor; my handbag; two rolled up placemats; a magazine cover (liberated from its contents by my darling child); sunscreen; a sunglasses cloth; a pen; three framed photos; a half-drunk bottle of red wine (which I am not touching and which should just be tossed in the bin, being an unholy potion delivering both insomnia and raging nightmares); a book; a pile of paid bills that want filing; a plastic bag full of child-proofing paraphernalia…. And whatever else is obscured by my bag. Hideous. I want to scrape it all into the garbage.
And it’s not the only pile of crap in the place. No, I am specialising in these mounds of domestic detritus. I have one in the kitchen and another in the bedroom. They’re like undergraduate art installations critiquing capitalism and the consumer society. If following a person’s paper trail reveals the inner-workings of their mind, then I am a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Oooh, look, there’s a scattered pile of unopened mail by the front door, too, right down to a cheap 2012 calendar – delivered free, unsolicited and entirely unwanted from an unknown source – what’s it all still doing here? Why isn’t it in the recycling bin yet? Why?
I think I’ve just been overwhelmed by the amount of useless rubbish that keeps teeming through the mail slot and trucking through the apartment. Everything has stickers and labels and packaging and price tags and there’s junk mail needing sorting from the bill mail and then there’s pending administration and lists and things I can’t find a place for because we have no storage. Plus Master J is learning to walk (very bloody cute he is about it too), and he’s tall, so we’re discovering on a daily basis just how far his reach extends. We keep being surprised by it. Vases are being pushed back, pressed right against the wall like children playing hide and seek, and bowls are being broken. He also demands to be on the move outside, preferably near some sort of body of water, so there’s very little time spent indoors. Though he has claimed the two best rooms in the place, he howls like he’s being flogged whenever I have the temerity to leave him in his playroom so I can quickly do something like hang the washing (when all I want is for the washing to GO HANG) or pay a bill online (forget using a computer in Master J’s presence. He comes over all Beethoven the second he sees the keys). Ergo, we GO.
There’s also the return of the sleepless night. They’re all doing it at the moment, I don’t know why, but at least one of his little chums, the divine Miss M, lies in like she’s Marie Antoinette after one of these early morning interludes. It would be one thing to be up at 2.30 and back to bed until 9.30, which is what happens at Miss M’s house, but not Master J. No, he’s getting earlier and earlier. We had a quasi-regular 5.45 start to the day for a few weeks there, but he’s wound that back to a spirit-crushing 5 am on the dot. And if he’s been up through the night as well, which he has been of late, well, aren’t I a picture by coffee time? Is it any wonder I simply stagger past those piles of paper, all of them reproaching me for yet more reams of unimportant shit I haven’t dealt with, and continue on out the door? In my glassy-eyed permanent stupor it’s a miracle I can see them at all (except for that free 2012 calendar, which is currently making its presence felt as a tripping hazard – I slip therefore I am).
Oh, okay, okay, okay. Damn it, I’m coming. It’s time to clean.