Faire le ménage

I want the world to be perfect, and because it isn't, I want my world to at least be clean. So I come home from school today, and like a reverse whirlwind, whip the place into shape, scrubbing kitchen and bathroom--shower curtain gets a bleach bath--dusting and vacuuming living room--including the furniture that was hiding all manner of foreign objects beneath the cushions-- mopping floors, wiping mirrors--I missed the one in the hall, but I will get it tomorrow.

In banishing dust mites and mildew and clutter and unpleasant odors, I'm exacting my revenge. There's more method to my madness than mere obsession for cleanliness. Oh, I like things to be clean, but I want my life to be perfect. Hang the flea market still life oil painting on the nail. Arrange the furniture just so. Wave a wand and wish that charm would keep it all so picture-perfect. But perfection is not possible. For me, at least.

Not if perfect means life always takes the turns I think it should. Oh, I've wished for a charmed life, and that always included a maid to do the dirty work. That wouldn't be a perfect life for her, though, would it? I'm the maid, it seems. In my life and in others'. So if I can't have my life charmed, can it at least be beautiful? Can things stay the same and not change, not grow sullied, tarnished with the passing time? Here please let me help, even if my hands grow chapped and calloused from the effort. And when life does not seem beautiful , help me to remember it is blessed.
William McGregor Paxton
(American, 1869-1941)
Dejeuner, Venice
Oil on canvas, 1910
Maryhill Museum


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