The last month has been a noteworthy one in my life. On paper, little of excitement has occurred. No major trips were planned. No electrifying nights out or late dinners debating politics over copious bottles of wine. I have gone to work, toiled in my job and then returned home to my family. In regards to exciting, note-worthy personal essays, my life was not generating the variables necessary to craft such pieces.
Yet, it has been one of the most tranquil periods in my life.
Granted, my 21-year-old self would sneer at the individual I have become. I imagine this younger doppelgänger would have many questions for my aged self: How can your ideal Friday night be sitting on the couch watching stupid Van Damme movies? In an election like this one, how can you idly sit at home while political events in your neighborhood are shaping the future? How can you be so contentedly stationary?
I would answer quite confidently: this just feels right. Mind you, I might have some questions of my own for 21-year-old Roland, but those are for another day.
I have been married for a few years, stable in my career, and the father of young children. If I were to ask any of my students, they would likely say those benchmarks are clear exemplars of middle age. I never felt those elements made me “old,” but a recent purchase to Wal-Mart cemented my current place in middle age.
I bought a steam vac and found myself legitimately excited to do so.
My daughter is loud and lovely, but as toddlers are prone to be, she is astoundingly untidy. We attempt to segregate her eating to the kitchen, but she finds a way to bring it with her all over the house. She knows not a couch she didn’t see an opportunity for food-based artistic alteration. Thus, our house has transformed from a clean and hip domicile to a toy-tattered baby canvas.
Sharing a space with my daughter I accepted: her approach to cleanliness and order I cannot.
So I carted the family over to the local market to examine steam vacs. We compared their specs as young men do with cars, looking for the device that gave us the utmost power at a price we could afford. Did we need a device that could carry a gallon of water, or was the model with a self warming-module necessary? We settled on a mid-priced vacuum with an extendable brush and happily parted with the 150 dollars.
I hurried home to unbox the device with the same enthusiasm I had when setting up my Sega Genesis in the early 1990s. We got right down to moving furniture to the corners of the house and hurdled into steaming the hell out of those soiled carpets and upholstery. My wife and I smiled mammoth grins as we observed the filth sucked into our new favorite toy.
This event wasn’t resented spring-cleaning: it was the highlight of the week. At that moment, I knew I had turned a page in my life.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Image: “Kitchen Scene” Peter Wtewael (Dutch, Utrecht 1596–1660)