Even though Zack and I have been back from vacation for 3 days now, I didn’t start the Post-Vacation Clean until today.
Growing up, there were pretty strict rules in my house about when things needed to be cleaned. For instance, if someone was coming to the house, everything had to be cleaned. If, perchance, the person coming to the house happened to be anyone of the grandparent persuasion, the house had to be cleaned twice. The house also had to be clean any time we were leaving for any type of a vacation. Really, mom liked for the house to be clean any time that we were leaving for anything at all. That sentence could be more accurately stated by saying that mom actually preferred it if the house was perfectly clean 100% of the time, but mom had four children and having four children and a constantly clean house is kind of not actually possible.
One of the many, many neuroses my mother handed down to me was the Clean Gene. I clean the house like a maniac before anyone comes over. I like to have the house clean before I go to bed, before I go on vacation, before I cook dinner, before I bring home the groceries, and always. I find it surprisingly difficult to put groceries away while the dishes are dirty.
That being said, my house is not (even almost) always clean. There are several reasons for this. 1.) Nursing school. 2.) Marriage requires compromise and Zack does not have the Clean Gene. 3.) After being married to people for a while, you start to morph into some weird combination-version of you and your spouse, and, unfortunately, you don’t always pick up your spouse’s most desirable traits. Somewhere along the way, during the past 4+ years, cleaning the house before I leave on vacation became an optional task. No longer did I force myself to stay up long hours the night before I went out of town to ensure that every dish was washed and every morsel of potentially stinky trash was removed from the house. No longer did I prepare my suitcase far enough in advance so that I could put away the items that were originally selected for travel, but rejected in the packing elimination rounds. My new packing-and-leaving-town ritual is full of reckless abandon; my vacation mindset creeps in and takes over my to-do list a day too soon.
I used to have a post-vacation clean-up ritual, too. I found closure in coming home and tossing all of my sandy/dirty/salty/sunscreen-covered clothes into the washer, and putting all of the suitcases back together again like a set of nesting Russian dolls. Even though vacation is easily THE BEST, there’s always something therapeutic about getting back to your routine. (I say this after every holiday season. I love Christmas and New Years and seeing family all of that, but one of my favorite things about the holiday season each year is seeing it come to a close. God bless the kind of days that require a day-planner, you know? Schedules and order are the best and my maiden surname is German.)
Before we left for Hawai’i, Zack and I did not do the pre-vacation clean. We did take out the trash, and we tried to straighten up a bit, but the vacation kind of snuck up on us, and we didn’t get everything taken care of. The day after I got back, I spent some time babysitting the nieces for Sarah1, since her family was in town for her brother’s wedding. The day after that, I spent some time making fajitas for Sarah1′s family so that she could spend time with them instead of stressing over how to perfectly grill chicken* without drying it out. So, today was the first day that I’ve been here, at my house, since we got home from Hawaii. It naturally follows that today has been the day of the post-vacation clean.
After having just completed the kitchen portion of today’s cleaning efforts, I feel I can, without exaggeration, declare that my life has been endangered as a result of the things I was just forced to touch in my own sink. I am a nurse, I touch gross things on a daily basis, so as an expert in disgusting, I can officially state that there are very few things in this world that are as gross as the mountains of mold and who-knows-what-else that were growing on the undersides of every single item contained within those 4 (or 8, if you’re counting the middle divider) miniature stainless steel walls.
Needless to say the pre-vacation clean has officially been reinstated as of this moment, and that ritual will forever be adhered to, sleep and spousal coercion be damned. Never again, my friends. Never, ever again.
*I may or may not** be really awesome at this.
**I am. I just said “may not” to be modest. But there should be no modesty about how awesomely I grill chicken. I’m quite good at it.