I lost my favorite Indian batik sheet while living out of my backpack in Paris. I always stop short of describing it as 'backpacking' since that conjures images of motorcycle rides to Amsterdam and eating prawns in Dingle with leather skinned Irish fishermen. That's not quite what I was doing. Actually all I ever did was just sit. Sometimes next to a fountain, sometimes at Le Telex on rue de Grenelle, sometimes just by the window in my chambre de bonne watching the wind blow flecks of paint from my dilapidated windows. And somehow I lost my sheet.
I've been thinking a lot about that sheet since last weekend, when I took my little man on a playdate with one of his classmates and I found myself in a typical get-to-know-you conversations with the other mom. The topic came to work and like so many times before when asked what I do, a weak "Eh." escaped my lips with a corresponding shoulder shrug. Quickly I shifted the question to the other mom and as it turns out she cleans houses for a living. She told me about working in Manhattan and how many jobs she was able to fit into a day since most of the times the apartments didn't get very dirty. She said that she was lucky enough to work with good people and make decent money and in my enthusiastic confusion about my own abilities, I was ready to sign my name to the dotted line and start cleaning houses too.
Okay, so I'm not that good at cleaning. I had to learn the hard way that Ajax is not a good toilet cleaner, the bowl may look shiny but the blue powder will clog the drain. I always seem to stir up the dust rather than whisk it away, although I do find it amazing how it has multiplied by the time it has settled back in the exact same spot. And I had a major, "what the fu-" moment when I realized that I needed to clean under the bolt caps of my toilet.
Before anyone calls the authorities, I think it needs to be pointed out that I don't live in filth. I do clean my apartment, just not to a level that anyone would pay me for.
Oh, and I am obsessive about making the beds. I see it as a sort of morning ritual, a glaring indicator that I need to do something with my day and that I really can't just spend it in bed.
But while I was going through a mental checklist of all my cleaning skills that I would need to improve my new mommy friend said to me, "It's funny, you look just like one woman whose apartment I use to clean in Upper West Side."
And in an instant my cleaning lady dreams were gone and I realized I want to be the one having my apartment cleaned.
And then I remembered my sheet.
The thing is, I feel so chic saying the words; batik, Paris, chambre de bonne. But the sad truth is is that was 8 years ago. I was on a path to be some bangle bracelet American feeding monkeys in Buddhist temples, but am now stuck trying to figure out where I can find a job just to keep the lights on.
I see wanderlust in my little guy and I know he and my husband are the perfect travel partners with just the right amounts of wonder and smarts. I just hope I can take them there, anywhere really, and while we're between one place and another, we'll come home to rest in our apartment in Upper West Side.
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