I love watching my aunt do what she loves to do.
Saying that my Aunt Marie loves to clean is an understatement. My aunt cleans much in the same way that she breathes. It’s a natural part of her life, a dance choreographed without her conscious knowledge. The need to clean lives inside of her and finds its way out through sponges and scented chemicals she sprays from multipurpose bottles with little flowers and polka dots on them.
Needless to say, my aunt’s house is immaculate. Every nook and cranny has been disinfected, wiped, scrubbed, purified and perfected to match her ideal vision of appeal. “Isn’t that better?” she says as she finishes tasks. “Doesn’t that look/smell/feel nice?”
My husband has seen some of her magic in my own compulsion to clean, but he never knew the level to which others might achieve cleanliness until we stayed at her house for a few nights around Christmas time one year.
After holiday festivities had concluded, Mark and I geared up to head home. When our car didn’t start, it took him a day and a half to figure out what was wrong with the car, fix it, and get us going on our merry way. In the meantime, we stayed with my aunt for more than our standard twelve-hour cycle. Marie had a chance to be herself, and Mark had a chance to watch her in action.
Marie’s essence works in such synchronicity, it often appears that her parts operate without conscious thought. Marie talks with a sponge or paper towel in yellow-gloved hands. Her hands move of their own accord, gliding here and there, over, under, in circles, back and forth, effortlessly. They know what they’re doing. They know what’s expected of them, and they operate without fail.
Marie’s voice knows how to adjust itself as she moves across the room. She can be in a different room from you entirely, completing a task she suddenly realized needed completing, without losing the thread of conversation or disrupting your ability to hear her. She can move a mop without stepping where she’s just cleaned, and she can tell you where to stand or sit so you remain comfortably stationary while she goes about her dance.
The after effects are just as impressive as the dance toward cleanliness itself. Marie’s house smells of lavender after she’s finished with the cleaning products that aerate the room just enough that the lavender smell will permeate perfectly. She uses a compilation of 409, Comet, Scrubbing Bubbles, Clorox, and Windex products. She also mixes straight rubbing alcohol with water to clean mirrored surfaces and granite countertops.
“Why am I going to spend all that extra money when rubbing alcohol works just fine and smells just as clean?” she says. Convinced of her practicality, since discovering the multipurpose uses of alcohol, she has purchased spray bottles for my mother, my cousin, my sister and myself. We can each experience the joys of frugal cleaning.
I love my aunt desperately, and not just because she knows the value of good cleaning. After my husband saw things in full swing, I began to wonder why I love watching her so much. I look forward to it. I tell other people about it, trying, but typically failing to express just how exquisite an experience the whole thing is.
I think I finally figured it out. She has crafted an art form. Watching her exist in her own space is a gift. She knows where to be and what she should be doing at all times. There is an organized methodology to what she accomplishes every day.
But it doesn’t stop there. Her dedicated, obsession with keeping her house in order permeates other areas of her life. Marie knows who she is. She always knows what she is doing. There is no time for her to question herself because she simply trusts, operates on instinct, and carries things out. She is herself without apology, and it’s admirable. Ok, yes, it’s weird to have pieced together my knowledge of my aunt thanks to the resonating image of the yellow gloves. But I’m thankful to have figured it out at all.
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