My husband lost his job recently, which has resulted in a bit of belt tightening around here. Some of the choices we've had to make are pretty difficult, others not so much.
For instance, deciding to give myself a pedicure was a no-brainer. Me and my sensitive little tootsies actually hate professional pedicures to the point where I need to bite a bullet to get through it. (What we suffer for beauty!) So it wasn't much of a sacrifice the other day when I found myself in my bathroom, one foot on the floor the other in the sink as I saturated cotton balls with acetone and struggled to remove the old polish embedded in my toenails.
I guess I was feeling pretty smug that I'm still limber enough to get myself into such a position, because in the middle of the operation I got careless and accidentally knocked the bottle of brand new crimson polish off the counter onto the white tile floor, where the glass virtually exploded, sending blood red lacquer everywhere. The little room looked like the aftermath of some grisly crime.
Murder, however, would have been an easier clean-up. A little soap and water and you're done. This was the mess to end all messes, requiring open windows and all the noxious nail polish remover I could get my gloved hands on.
As I got to work, I cursed myself for my recklessness. Considering my history with nail polish remover, you'd think I'd have learned to be more careful.
Once, in my single days, I gave myself a manicure sitting cross-legged in my bed wearing nothing but a short nightgown. And I mean nothing. I had the open bottle of nail polish remover wedged into the vee created by my bent knee. I don't know what distracted me, but at some point the bottle tipped over, spilling the entire contents into my naked private parts.
Kids, don't try this at home. Spilling nail polish remover on a mucus membrane is not a fun way to spend an evening.
I leaped from the bed screaming, "I spilled nail polish remover in my vagina! I spilled nail polish remover in my vagina!"
My roommate, Fern, came running from her room. "Get into the shower, you idiot!" she yelled, laughing.
I couldn't listen. I was too hysterical. I just kept running around the apartment, flailing my arms and repeating that phrase (which is sure to get me some interesting google hits). Fern laughed harder and harder as she chased me, trying to corral me into the bathroom. Finally she grabbed me, laughing so hard tears streamed down her face. By the time she pushed me into the bathroom, pulled off my nightgown and threw me into the shower, I was laughing, too.
If you don't think she repeated the story for an entire month to anyone who would listen, you didn't know Fern. And I have to admit, it got funnier each time.
Now that both these stories are behind me, I'm trying to glean some wisdom from these episodes. And what I came up with is this: Life is a messy affair. The husband who is good and honest and smart and loyal and hardworking loses his job unfairly, and the family suffers. The best friend who could make you laugh through your pain gets cancer and dies. All you can do is try to clean up the best you can and get on with it. Sure, small reminders of the mess will remain forever, but that's okay. It's how it should be. Most of the time you won't even notice it. But once in a while, your eye will catch a smudge of pink that never came out of the grout. Like the permanent mark on your heart, it connects you to your past, and makes you remember.
So you'll flush the toilet, wash your hands and leave the bathroom. And then, if you're very lucky, you'll start making messes all over again.