Kitchen Floors

So, as I think I mentioned at one point: I washed the kitchen floor on Saturday. It’s linoleum, or vinyl, I don’t know the difference. It’s a greyish blue with mottled brown bits that I struggled not to see as stains that needed scrubbing to be freed from the clutches of the floor. It had been swept already, probably wiped down too. But there was no sheen, and I knew it wanted to be washed, not moped, not wiped not vacuumed. It wanted washing: on hands and knees with bucket, cloth and brush.

It was a decision I pushed off for sometime. I was tired, after all. It wasn’t required of me anyway. It probably wouldn’t be good for my knee to be impaled against such an unforgiving surface. Not to mention, I just wanted to read my book and maybe write. Not to mention, I wanted to be selfish and lazy. But somewhere, something got the best of me, and I scrounged through the closet in the hall to find a bucket and the cleaner that was in front of me for half an hour while I googled various home remedies for vinyl washing soaps–not only am I blind spiritually, it would seem I am also blind to the obvious reality in front of my nose, at eye level, on the shelf, in a giant purple bottle glowing under the gaze of “Mr. Clean.”

It was a very domestic evening. I listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll and dreamed about Seattle. I wiped around corners of cabinets and floorboards with the paint peeling off in tiny flakes. The dirt is nestled into the groves where vinyl floor embraces uneven floorboards and crooked edges. But the cloth so gently dipped down into the crevices, and with gentle arms brought the dirt to service, the crumbs and bits of life forgotten and she cradled them in her fibrous clutches until I sloshed it all through browning water and moved to the next square. I scrubbed at sticky spots, scoured away chunks, swabbed under counters and stove alike, where the debris was greater but the fighting less. It was a bit painful at some moments, there’s not point in pretending that my body isn’t angry with such actions, or that my knee doesn’t abject to such trials. In fact, it does so quite vehemently, with dull aches and shooting pains, that joint let me know: I’m a crotchety old man, even if genetics and calcium density claims age 22. I do not like this attempt at relaxation via domesticity.

But the house was cool and quiet. The wind outside rustled the leaves that have turned to their brilliant interpretation of the summer sun that nursed them until this month when it whispered goodbye and began a slow but steady retreat. Mark vacillated between shouting and calmly calling for repentance.  I hummed a tune that’s been stuck in my head for days on end. The flowers on the counter smelled sweet and graceful, dipping down in a delightful curtsy as if to say “why thank you for cleaning the home we’re now to share.” The candles snapped and the light wavered as the water grew darker and thicker.

I scrubbed and scoured and it was a perfect evening. I don’t know that I have ever washed a floor before, on my hands and knees. I have taken a toothbrush to floorboards and insistent blemishes in the past. But to scrub the floor clean with diligence and attention to this extent? Doubtful. It was work, I won’t lie. I am,  by nature, fairly lazy. I prefer to read, to write, to make lattes, to bake and to go for long walks. So I will admit to being entirely surprised by the adventure of scrubbing a kitchen floor. I thoroughly enjoyed it, sermon, music, prayers and all. It was relaxing, in a bizarre way. It was uncomplicated, refreshing and restorative.

Which is all to say: I think I’ll be listening to more Mark Driscoll and scrubbing more floors than expected over the next several months. I might pine away for Seattle, dreaming of the massive dark sanctuary where i could sing as nowhere else. Thinking of the rain on the stairs outside my dorm room, or crashing against the window of my apartment. I might long for the walks on Queen Anne, the Halloween parade in Fremont, the bridge to Ballard, the delight of watching a city be washed and reborn day in and day out. This is, after all, what comes of listening to Mark. But in a strange way, it is also what enables me to be content where I am: suburbia. Colorado. October. 22. Single. and deeply in love with Isa.

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