I always seem to return to the dishes. The sink with its bubbles and mismatched plates and silverware are among the best meditation chamber I could ask for, I suppose, even as I resent the fact I don’t have a dishwasher and haven’t for most of my adult life.
The water, the bubbles, the action of the sponge massaging the plates and the bowls and the cups is something women have been doing for generations. We’ve stood at sinks and tubs of water and we’ve prepared containers to place food to nourish and cleanse our families and at times we do two things at once: I have been known to be crabby when I arrive at the sink and somehow get ideas I don’t get while sitting at my desk staring at an empty page.
I become philosophical and erudite with my hands in the suds, not unlike after I’ve had a couple drinks at a party and suddenly want to have meaningful conversations with anyone wearing glasses and a slightly quirky assemblage of clothing. I don’t just think, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a conversation with that person who looks like she (or sometimes he) would “get” me without me having to explain myself?”
It is so freeing to have someone understand me, I even made up a funny way to sort people who attempt to talk to me when I am minding my own business writing while I sit at a local bar, waiting to sing karaoke. I truly go to the bar to sing and write, write and sing, not to socialize with random people in hopes of building a relationship.
Usually I steer the conversation to Rumi.
"Roomie?" they ask, thinking about interference in the intimacy department.
"No, I enjoy reading and studying Rumi, the 15th Century Sufi poet. You know, Islamic mysticism?"
Can't you see the girl with the magic wand in the bowl in the kitchen sink talking to some guy in cowboy boots and a black hat about Rumi right after she has song a rousing rendition of "When Will I Be Loved?"
I have stood at this sink and washed baby bottles, Belle plates and bowls followed by Lightning McQueen and now, a variety of vintage cups, utilitarian plastic bowls and practical always unmatched plates.
I have cried and fretted and a-ha’ed.
Standing at this sink I have hatched plans of hope and I have let despair shake my shoulders until there was no more salt to dropped into the suds, adding grit to the soap bubbles. I have found paths to solutions and picked up pieces of broken glass so no one else would get hurt even if I sliced through my own skin.
My skin was secondary, always, even when melanoma left its footprints on my face. Maybe if I had spent more time at the sink then my recovery wouldn’t have been as tumultuous.
When Samuel was younger we had a ritual of dumping his hands in the suds 100 times and then declaring them clean. Then I would clean his ears and he would have shrieking fits of laughter and delight amongst his mock “leave me alone!” disapproval.
He is fifteen-years-old now and an expert in the "leave me alone" experience. He carries too much ennui to include an exclamation point. I was thrilled when he did nudge me elbow-to-elbow the other day, acknowledging what he was saying to me was a loving tease.
It isn’t easy to understand, at first: this connection with water and bubbles and dishes to my story and the wider story of women in the past. Perhaps it is the wisdom and tenacity of those who haven’t had the modern conveniences taken for granted in today’s kitchens that sets this particular experience apart.
I'm still at a loss for having a sure-fire "eureka!" answer on this one....
People actually choose hand dishwashing now because of environmental concerns of using a dishwasher.
It hasn’t been that for me, it’s just leftover strange planning for the people who owned this house before me and an odd-for-today’s size space for a dishwasher that calls me to stand with my hands plunged in the water again and again and again.
I think the magic wand I am looking for isn't aiming for the eureka moment at all.
I always seem to return to the dishes. The sink with its bubbles and mismatched plates and silverware are among the best meditation chamber I could ask for, I suppose.
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Julie Jordan Scott inspires people to experience artistic rebirth via her programs, playshops, books, performances and simply being herself out in the world. She is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed-media artist whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people's creative lives. Watch for the announcement of new programs coming in early Summer and beyond.
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