Stacks

By Krista Varela Posell

You’ve let the dishes pile up this week, which has really only been three days, because you’re at home and using at least dozen different utensils and dishes a day, which doesn’t include the cookware you’re using to make all of your meals, because, though you can’t make yourself do much of anything else, you’re at least managing to cook and get some fresh veggies into your diet; all week you’ve been telling yourself, “I’ll do the dishes after dinner,” but then after dinner comes and all you want to do is collapse in bed and watch Netflix on your tablet until you pass out then wake up at three in the morning to find the show you’ve watched a dozen times still going, still rolling on somehow from one episode to the next, as though the app has forgotten about you, and you miss when it would ask you, “Are you still watching?” (which is probably a setting you could adjust but you’re too lazy to figure it out); so then you tell yourself, “I’ll do the dishes in the morning,” but then morning comes and you just want to get outside for a walk before you settle in to work, because it’s the one thing you can do in the middle of this pandemic, for now, while the air is clear as you wait for the next fire to turn the sky apocalyptic orange; so the dishes keep piling, multiple heaps precariously stacked in the sink that then start to spread to the counter, until finally there are no forks left—not even the mismatched ones from the original set that you first bought when you left your mother’s house twelve years ago and have made it through six moves, even if some have gone missing along the way—and you get tired of washing a single fork when you need it, but then you run out of plates, so you have no choice but to finally do the dishes, which really only consists of rinsing them and putting them in the dishwasher, but even that has been too daunting a task; but it feels good letting them pile up in this way, knowing the inevitability of reaching this tipping point of having to wash them, because sometimes it’s easier to start from the bottom, to tackle a total mess, and know that no matter what action you take, it’s better than doing nothing, which is what you’ve been doing for the past three days while the dishes have been piling—staring at your phone waiting for people who take hours or days to text you back a response to a simple “hello,” scrolling through Twitter to see what stupid thing That Idiot said or did today, looking for places to send your writing but not actually sending your writing, jotting down ideas for essays in your notes app but not actually writing—so you get the water nice and hot, to soak the dried ketchup on the plates, to rinse the olive oil from the salad bowl, to run your hands under the faucet even though it burns—your husband, who does his best to help with this chore when he’s not working four hours of overtime a day on his graveyard shift, isn’t sure how you can stand it—but you like it when the water is scalding, and the whole task only takes twenty minutes, maybe thirty at the most, to plow through the stacks and empty the sink, but when you’re done, drying your red, tender hands on a towel, you wipe down the counter, which is now empty aside from the flowers some friends sent you as condolences for your dying mother—because what else can you do for someone when you can’t give them a hug?—and you breathe a sigh of relief at this small triumph, delighting in its ephemeral tidiness so much that you think about taking a picture of it, before grabbing a bowl and a spoon for some cereal.

Krista Varela Posell is co-creator of Poly in Place and actually enjoys doing the dishes. 

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