Of all the desultory tenderness of life to love, the household intimacies stand out.

This morning I cleaned my master bathroom. My wife cleaned the downstairs bathroom. My daughter cleaned her bathroom. I liked it. My cleaning time was a happy spraying, scrubbing and rinsing, a kind of putter-headed hum and buzz and calm that comes amid the keeping, caring circular motions of washing things. 

The ho-hum, assign-and-be-done, domestic particularities,  the dirty dishes, the tubs of laundry, the vacuuming , the dusting — chorish and dutified as they be thought — they rank, crank and bank sweet, sane, solid satisfaction.

It’s not the little things in life that drive us crazy; it’s the little things that keep us sane — a clean toilet, an uncluttered counter, a folded stack of clothes.

What we do to order the borders of our rooms and homes and yards  and offices make up the warp and woof of wondrous, wellish, woofish world.

Cleaning is craft.

This morning, with a spray bottle and a rag I humanized my most intimate space, my master bathroom, turning spotted, stained, dust-covered counters and toilets into gleaming, clean, smooth surfaces for my most intimate preparation rituals — those everyday, private motions of cleaning, brushing, trimming, washing, combing, moisturizing and scenting my own body.

The art and trade of cleaning and of organizing is the art and trade of personalizing our most sacred spaces.

Last week I emptied a drawer in a cupboard, threw out all the faded, fossilized flotsam that had piled up there over several years  —  old phone chargers, abandon power cords, beat up photo frames, a stray dice —  and put back in order those things I still want and need to keep on hand.

Life is just this —  the fiddling though detail, the categorization of the personal particular, the cleaning, placing and keeping of our stuff, and the tossing of the dice. It is a decision, to live as orderly or as messy as we choose, to ignore the voices of our mothers telling us to clean our rooms, and to heed our own soft, non-judgmental voices, telling us what degree of mess, muss or made-bed we want.

Life is a sorting, a chucking and a storing business that takes place within the vertical and horizontal props and privacies of our favorite walls and floors and ceilings. There we hunker down, do our own work, make our own domestic map, live as we choose.

I love it.

I’m not for maids or house keepers, or yard guys either.  I’d rather clean up after myself, or not, as I choose.

I am my own standard of order, I vibrate to my own cleaning chord — and sometimes my wife’s. I  live as I choose on my own steamed-cleaned carpet, mown lawn, within my own flower garden, my own lily pond, my own patio, in the cubicles of my own closet organizer, in my own self-painted, self-decorated bedroom.

I wish to keep it this way, to do my own household tasks, to live close to my own humanity, to make my own bed, clean my own toilet, say my own household prayers, wash my own dishes, mow my own yard, shave my own face, take out my own trash.

It’s sanity, this happy, soothing looking after oneself and ones family.

I want to keep cleaning my own bathroom, not because it’s humbling, but because it is intimate.

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