Ever since I arrived in the UK, I have felt insanely domestic. Maybe it’s just because I’m finally getting to make a home with the man I love, but I find myself wanting to cook and clean with frightening regularity. The cooking thing isn’t all that odd, but the cleaning…it’s weird. Just ask my mother. I am not known for being what anyone would call ‘neat.’
Yet just the other day, the day before my birthday, in fact, I suddenly wanted to clean everything. It started off as me simply wanting to vacuum the floors because the slippers I constantly wear to keep my feet from freezing leave white fluff all over the place, but I also rearranged the pantry, putting all of the things I use regularly in the front so I can stop yanking out a dozen soup cans whenever I want the cornstarch, organized the spice rack alphabetically and cleaned the toaster and the tea machine. (Yes, we have a electric tea-maker. Do you have any idea how much tea is drunk in this house??) All that from the need to vacuum.
Halfway through the unprecedented task of refilling the moisture traps that sit between our windows (we have double windows; the original glass and iron windowpanes are insulated by modern, sliding glass windows that keep out the cold much, much better, but build up condensation and mold way too easily), I realized that perhaps this burst of cleaning energy was about more than just trying to be a good wife. Maybe it was about trying not to bring my old habits into my new life.
I don’t want to be messy Kristen here. I want to be Totally Together Kristen, with a spotless kitchen floor and a bathroom that always smells like flowers and apples and sunshine. I want to have an organized closet and dust-free bookshelves and light bulbs that never burn out. I want something bubbling in the Crockpot while bread dough rises on the counter. I want to send birthday cards out on time and write letters to my friends and family instead of poking them on Facebook. I want to cultivate an herb garden and develop a taste for more vegetables. I want to dedicate a Sunday to making and freezing casseroles for quick weeknight dinners. I want to bake pies. Lots and lots of pies.
But at the same time, I want to spend whole afternoons reading and entire mornings plotting out stories. I want to be like Nora Roberts and sit down at my computer for eight hours every day, spinning incredible romances that will make millions of readers sigh in happiness. I want to contribute financially towards this new life, especially as we begin to consider having children. I still want to be a professional writer, while at the same time I want to be the next Martha Stewart.
I have no idea if I can do both at the same time, every day, forever, without fail. I seriously doubt it, because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day, but the fact that I want to at least ensures that I will try. Some days, I won’t even come close, and I will consider simply making the bed a major triumph. On the other hand, though, there will be days where I produce something like this…
…and on those days, I will bask in the sheer knowledge that somewhere inside of me, as cliched as it is, there is a domestic goddess just waiting to clean something.
Kristen at 34 is far more like her mother than Kristen at 14 or even Kristen at 24 would have been comfortable with, but Kristen at 34 doesn’t care. She has laundry that won’t wash itself.