I receive a text from my friend on a Monday. It reads, “About your birthday present: I seriously want to help you clean your house. I would love to have it on my schedule once a month.”
She’s referring to a casual conversation we had the week before—she mentioned coming over monthly to help me clean instead of buying me a gift. I had brushed it off, because offers like this can feel superficial. Let’s get coffee! Yeah, we totally should. But when her text pops up, I realize she has considered this offer and the time it would take. I respond with an enthusiastic yes, and we pencil it in.
She knocks on my door at 7:15 on a Tuesday evening, about a month later. We each give little recaps of our day, hitting the high and low points; when she asks what I need help with most, I say the baseboards.
“They’re filthy, and it’s been bugging me for weeks.”
After some digging through a closet, I locate two buckets and two rags, and we trail each other around the house, switching from our hands and knees to sitting criss-cross style, chatting about personality types and her daughter’s schoolwork. Sometimes the conversation lulls, and I become hyper-aware of the globs of dog hair on my rag. For a few brief moments, I wish I hadn’t let her come. But then we slowly work our way into the good stuff, like our dreams, our relationships, what we’re learning about our souls. I confess how short my temper has been, how quick and sharp my words can be. She tells me that she and her daughter have also been quick to argue and slow to listen. And it feels like something inside of me has cracked open to let the fresh air in, like a cut that’s been under a bandage for too long. We dip our rags in the soapy water and keep wiping the boards.