Despite being homebound for over a month, a month’s worth of house cleaning occurred on 1 sunny April day, a spontaneous, madly executed group effort by myself, my husband and our tween, as though houseguests were arriving, when really we only expected UPS with our cases of Cool Blue Gatorade, sparkling water, and a bag of assorted cat toys. We dusted books and desks, even tops of cabinets, refreshed litter boxes. I vacuumed the couch, hauling the machine’s noisy, square base onto the fabric, then the ottoman, offending the mixed-poodle, then the cushions of the skyblue chairs in the sitting room, offending all cats. We wiped down bathrooms and the kitchen (ignoring, though, what lies beneath the stove’s burner gridwork—another day, another day, we promised), folded laundry piled on the guestroom bed, watered plants, froze to exclaim over several quail swiftly crossing the patio, passed around bottles of Gatorade when delivered, and right before finishing, remembered to turn on cleaning music (“Alexa, play Yo-Yo Ma!”). And when the house gleamed, we rewarded ourselves with our favorite meals, ordered from 2 different restaurants–and a movie, Independence Day, a flick we thought our tween would enjoy because of action and aliens. Wrong. After devouring his dinner, our son dubbed the movie so trash and fled upstairs to his video games while my husband and I delved deep into Ozark. Near midnight, I reached down to pick up the poodle-mix. In the process of swinging him from floor to bed, I felt my back stretch as though being pulled apart like a hair tie by a thumb and forefinger.
My husband helped me into bed, fed me Advil, even though they say NO ADVIL in the time of COVID-19 (“That’s only if you have the virus,” my husband corrected me. “No,” he said when I started to protest. “No.”). He dabbed my tears with the freshly laundered duvet before turning off the light.
I couldn’t walk the next morning. Plus, my lower right molar throbbed and an ache hung behind my eyes, competing with my back’s complaints. I was fast falling apart. Once again, I brought up the virus. “The headache, my toothache, and now I’ve taken Advil,” I wailed as my husband slid open the windows and a warm spring breeze entered the room, bringing birdsong from goldfinches and mourning doves and that hawk’s authoritative cry as it circled the park behind our house. My husband locked his fingers on my chin, turned my head to the windows. I saw the lush park, the small hill the coyotes howl from at night, the greeny mountains of the Angeles National Forest in the distance, the hawk’s tireless loops.
I shut up and visited with the view while my spouse made breakfast. The tween appeared, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, blinking sleepily. He lay down next to me and we visited with the view together until my husband announced via the bedroom’s Echo Dot that breakfast was served.
“I’ll bring it to you,” the tween said, not a trace of the usual tweeny-moodiness in his voice. He patted my arm. “It’s probably because you vacuumed the furniture,” he said as he lope-walked from the room, the fuzzy blanket a train one of the cats chased.
I pulled a thermometer from the bedside table’s drawer and took my temperature, then my blood pressure with one of those nifty wrist binding machines, marveling over my son’s sweet pats on my arm—precious, priceless, forever.
All was f***ing well.