A shopping bag from Target would stay in the family room, not quite emptied. A spill on the stairs, when someone was bringing food to their room, would be left, and passing feet would grind Cheetos into the runners next to the piles of clothes that had sat there so long no one could remember if they were going up or down. Rubber bands from the newspapers sprang into corners, never to be retrieved, and the papers themselves would be left on a table after being read, open to the sale pages; or more often stacked up by the fireplace both unread and unburned. Hair scrunchies, clothing tags, toenail clippings, gum wrappers (and gum, itself), would be left behind without consciousness; no one ever had time to vacuum. Coffee rings and spilled food stayed on tabletops. Take-out containers, straws from sodas, lids from energy drink bottles were left on every horizontal surface. A former mocha latte with a layer of mold on it sat beside the television. And all of the casserole dishes and frozen dinner boxes that friends and neighbors brought by in sympathy just stacked up in the sink.
After a month or so, I couldn’t stand it anymore; passing through the house on my way out the door would turn my stomach—and I never knew what I might step on. In a way, in a very twisted way, The Hills women did me a favor: their clutter eventually brought me out of my funk. One night I just started cleaning and it felt good. After that, when everyone went to bed at night I’d go attack a problem—the stairway, the kitchen, a bathroom. It was my house, my mother’s house, and I didn’t like to see it looking so awful.
Besides, all the yelling and whining was getting to me. “Where’s my magazine?” “Has anyone seen my other leg warmer?” “I put my reading glasses right here and now they’re gone.” “I swear, this house is eating things!” “I swear, this house hates us!” “Mo-o-o-om!”
So, little by little, I took back the house.
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