The Good Fight

Plastic Army MenI am home alone, again fighting the good fight. The battle lines are drawn. I am holding down a secure area. For now. I am fighting on the side of light, order and cleanliness against the advancing troops of chaos and destruction. I cannot afford to drop my vigilance. The moment I turn my back another unwashed dish shows up in the sink. Another empty cardboard box mysteriously materializes next to the back door. Another ceramic vase cheekily takes up residence on the bookshelf. There is a reason why it is called a bookshelf and not a vase-shelf! A band of rubber bands, sunglasses and books is getting ready to storm the kitchen counter.

Long ago, large swaths of territories were lost during negotiations. The best of all husband’s desk has been held by the dark forces ever since we moved in. I drew an invisible line of demarcation through our shared office. On one side lurks the darkness of chaos, on the other shines the pristine light of an empty desk. Can chaos ever be contained? But I can’t waste timing crying over long lost battles. I must focus on territories that can be held. Do I dare to launch a preemptive strike and move the empty boxes to the garage? Straighten out the shoes and put dangerously spiky Kenzans back in the cabinet where they are supposed to be kept instead of on the shelf above the sink? What will be the political fall-out when Jeff comes back from work? There are no simple solutions.

There are days when I can sense a malicious presence in the office closet where only a thin pine door serves as the brave sentinel against the advancing forces of clutter. Those are the days when I am teetering between launching the war to end all wars on the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in the wake of our lives and just curling up in a fetal position of despair letting the dark wave wash over me. I know that the universe will die an entropic death and thermodynamically, order is only possible locally and for a short period of time. Physics tells me my case is hopeless and yet I know I need to fight on.

Or is there another way? The best of all husbands appears to be wandering in the dark lands with frightening ease and familiarity. He derives a strange sort of calm and strength from this field strewn with wreckage. To him every piece is a promise, speaks of opportunity and potential. This cardboard box can be a protective cover to a fragile vase. This dried branch has a lovely line that will complement a future arrangement. Empty jars and containers whisper of yet undiscovered uses. Riches are secreted away in the strata of the desk. Third stack to the right, about ten inches down. That’s where the birth certificate lies. Turn right at the empty spice glass, pass the thick protective layer of mail, yes, that’s where the bank statements sleep, waiting to be awakened by the knowing seeker. A mysterious order rules this land, apparent to the initiated, but hidden from the lesser mind.

To him, my world is empty and barren. There is no comfort to be found, no trace of human habitation. In the cold order of the barren desk, the unforgiving cleanliness, is there room for an artist’s soul in this mathematical precision? So predictable is the hierarchy that there seems to be no room for the unexpected. Why are items heavy with memories suddenly banished to the garage?

I know I order my physical world to calm the turmoil inside. He too uses the space around him to calm himself. This thought shakes my belief in the righteousness of my cause, for a moment. I know we are fighting on the same side, although with very different weapons. We are fighting for us, for our life together. I need to remember this, the next time I curl up on the kitchen floor.

This article was first published at Frontiers LA.

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