If you were to list the sounds you associate with safety and comfort and ease, what would you include? A favorite song, perhaps? The voice of a loved one? The sound of the ocean or leaves gently rustling in the wind?
I’m home alone this evening, and after a magical October-in-San-Francisco sunset, enjoyed on the beach while running with a good friend and the pup, I came home to an empty house. Maybe because there were no other sounds and no other distractions, I was thinking about the noises I was making.
The eeeee creak of pipes and the shhhhhh rush of water and the sliding of the metal shower curtain rings against the metal curtain rod, all mean I have hot running water and a way to rinse off a day full of sweat and sand and work and thinking and worrying.
The click-click-click of the gas stove and the sizzle of food hitting the skillet, even the crack of the plastic (I know) container that holds my meal (yes, I got sucked into getting a few vegan prepared meals each week delivered rather than eat cheese toast for lunch and subpar burritos for dinner when we don’t feel like cooking), all mean I have a hot meal and a modern kitchen and access to fresh food and money to buy enough to satiate me.
The hum and gurgle of the dishwasher means we have full bellies and makes the house somehow feel cozy, to have that white noise whirring along in the background, while I read articles and drink wine.
When it’s done running, I’ll curse the fact I have to unload it. Second only to sweeping the floor as my least-favorite assignment to earn my allowance as a kid. It’s one of those never-ending chores, like laundry and cooking and dusting. Filling it, is gradual, and not a chore at all, just the promise that putting the dishes into this machine and pushing a button will make them clean without wet pruney hands and brittle fingernails and having to do that horrible thing where you have to clear the drain of all the gunk before the water can drain.
I think of the Golden Gate Bridge, and how the story is that as soon as the crews are done painting it in International Orange, they have to return to the other side and start all over again.
So, is it ever really finished?
Is this a logistical question or a philosophical question?
As soon as the dishwasher is empty, there are dirty dishes to load. As soon as the laundry is folded and put away, I strip naked and put the dirty clothes into the hamper.
There’s something here I want to say about the monotony of life, the sameness of it all, the repetition and never being finished and always more to do.
Which of course is all true.
Also true: the two hours the dishwasher is running and no dishes are being dirtied and the kitchen lights are off for the day and there is nothing to be done. That sound of the dishwasher means there is nothing to do but wait, to meditate and write to the sound of churning water, to marvel at the miracle of clean dishes at the push of a button.
I like to think, that before they return to the other end of the bridge, the painting crew of the Golden Gate Bridge goes down to Crissy Field, or somewhere they can see the entire span, and gaze at the orange expanse, and think, now there’s a job well done. I did that.
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