Today the cleaning lady came.
I feel so weird saying that. It was whilst I was trying to be a teacher that we started this. I had come to the utmost end of my rope, and then we found that this wonderful woman, whom I had known for quite some time, actually cleans houses and had an opening.
The first time she cleaned was like the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders (and I know that is a cliche, but it is just so very like how it was). She came on a Thursday, and when Saturday morning dawned, I needed to lesson plan for four classes, grade approximately 80 book reports, grocery shop, do seven loads of laundry, and try to track down everybody's schedules for the next week and get the information all loaded onto the family calendar... but I did not need to clean. For the first time since I had begun teaching, I felt like I could take a breath.
Since then, I've quit trying to teach. But now I have to sell my house, so I thought it might be prudent to keep on with the cleaning help. It is a little bit easier to spend a day dragging out old boxes and going through them if you know somebody else will eventually come along behind you and vacuum up the dust... as well as get to the bathrooms you neglected while you had your nose in the old boxes. I say this in theory because I have not done very much going through old boxes; some, not much.
We vacate while she is cleaning. This morning I went to a Bible study, and then I met up with Shawn who was at Panera trying to use their free wi-fi to get some work done. We are still getting the hang of this working-from-home thing, but I think it is a blessing to have scheduled cleanings. Otherwise I would probably simply never vacuum at all, because there is always the threat of a telephone call from a client.
Shawn had snagged a table in the back, by a window. He'd picked up his birthday present gadget (not an iPad, a Google Nexus) while I was at the Bible study. Now he had coffee; I had tea. He had a sandwich; I had a bagel. We sat, and Panera bustled, full of mostly little old people eating soup from bread bowls. Beyond the window, sprigs of February-dead rosehips oscillated gently back and forth, beyond them a silver Honda Odyssey, beyond that the bright red sign proclaiming Price Chopper. It was a retail sort of view.
We needed to stay until the cleaning was done, and there was so much I wanted to say that I could not say, perhaps because it was busy and crowded. Sometimes when your heart is particularly full, your throat gets clogged and constipated with words. Bible study had filled me with disjointed thoughts on the gospel, forgiveness, restoration, the need to do a thorough housecleaning across our personal relationships. Speech shunned me.
We took turns leaving our post because he had set his billfold and his Nexus on the windowsill, and his laptop was plugged in on the table. He got the food. I fixed my tea. He selected his free birthday pastry for dessert. I threw away some trash, ran into a friend, refilled my tea. He tried to open his Nexus and get it started up. I underwent a sudden stomach cramp and felt the need to leave. It was nearly time for our housecleaning to be done. We packed up and drove our separate cars home.
When we got home, I wanted to write, because something about those brown, dried up rose hips begged to be remembered, something sad and hopeful, barren and refreshingly natural against a sea of asphalt paving and yellow parking lines.
So I sat down, and the phone rang. It was the doctor. This one, a rheumetologist with a specialization in auto-immune issues, says I have Lupus. He has already called in a prescription to my pharmacy. "Which pharmacy?" I asked. He didn't know, but I should start taking this medicine right away and probably continue for the rest of my life, unless my stomach can't tolerate it.
My house is clean.