And guess who had to wipe, move, and reposition brass elephant statues and wooden shoes from holland and porcelain bells from England and decorative glass plates on stands? Good guess, but no. Not my brother and not my sister; they were nonexistent assholes. All child labour fell my way.
My mother is very into clean. Like, Martha Stewart meets Howie Mandel. So, this dusting business happened once a week, minimum. And oh god I dreaded it. In the summertime I would leave dusting until just before my mom was due to arrive home from work, letting it linger and loom. The chore would cut into time I had set aside to tan or read sex scenes from mom’s hidden smut novels. (The hamper in the bathroom, buried under towels; really, Mom?) (Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series was juicy!). And if it was during the school year, I could be found dusting on Sunday, making it less of a funday.
How sorry for me are you feeling? Very, I know. I likely only did a tenth of the dusting, but my cantankerous inner child reluctantly acknowledges this.
If art takes a knick-knack form, it’s turned away at the door or has a short lifespan in my adult house. I now dust as often as I move.
Having a child just about did me in. Have you seen the gobs of knick-knacky shit these small humans come with? It’s disgusting. And they get attached and weird when we suggest the throwing out or giving away of their whatnots. I used to wait until Emma was at her grandparent’s to go through her room, gather piles of forgotten trinkets, and bag them up, out of sight, before her return. When she inevitably inquired about something I was sure she’d never miss, I’d shrug and play dumb.
Yes, Emma, I lied to you. Repeatedly. Send your therapy bills my way.
My mom married Brian when I was eight. I think it was in their first year he flew back to Windsor, Ontario to see his family. Or maybe they were still dating and I was younger. He was gone for a week or two and came home with presents. My mom opened hers to find a gold necklace, and I was all cha-ching!
I opened my package to find a small, ceramic zebra. A MOTHERFUCKING KNICK-KNACK THAT I WOULD HAVE TO DUST. What a complete bust. I pretended to love it because I knew I’d be grounded for anything less.
I locked souls with Brian the day we met; we skipped the Winning Over your Step-Child phase, plunging heart first into togetherness. It wasn’t until later, when he became an unbending ally to my mother — never speaking up for me, even when I needed him — that I began to see him as an opponent. As years passed the steps separating our togetherness grew and stopped being travelled.
My ceramic zebra has survived the purging of my moves and I have come to love it. The sight of it stirs me. It reminds me of some things:
- That kids can be narcissistic, ungrateful assholes.
- That I was loved and remembered by someone I adored, even with 3000kms between us.
- That being an adult and in relationship is hard and I didn’t always know that.
- That I need to stand up for my kid or I could lose her.
- That dusting can wait, and if can’t, you move.
I don’t speak to my mom or Brian. It’s been eight years. The zebra also reminds me that when I feel ready, I’d like to try again.
I‘m doing the NaBloPoMo challenge this month, using the writing prompts. This one was “Write about one object you see at this exact moment.” After staring at everything in my living room for fifteen minutes, nothing sparked. I remembered my zebra and found it upstairs. When I told Steve, his response was, “So, you’re starting the challenge with cheating?” Yes, Steve, I am.