I scroll through my Instagram feed. I’m meant to be sleeping, and I really should be doing one of the many things that will actually help me get to sleep, but I’m not, I’m looking at Instagram. Suddenly I am face to face with the inside of my fridge. That’s strange, I think slightly delirious, did I post that? I didn’t post that. Why would I post a picture of the inside of my fridge? I know it is my fridge because even though it may be a well-organised piece of machinery, mostly because every Saturday after the Farmer’s Market, I cook and prep and set the fridge and freezer up for the week ahead in a weird game of Tetris that only I seem to know the rules to, it is not always clean.
Let me be upfront, I am a terrible cleaner, okay, I’m not, but I really hate doing it. I have strong memories of having to vacuum the kitchen, family room, bedrooms, bathroom, laundry, toilet and hallway before school every morning. Mum swears she only made me do that for a week to prove a point but I am sure it was much longer than that. And every Saturday morning the ‘clean’ was so tense and tortured and involved us kids being kicked out of the house and not being allowed to return until it was finished, which was good because then we could escape the cleaning madness, but not so good because the clean wouldn’t ever be finished until 2 pm and we would be really hungry by then. Heaven help us if our bladders were threatening to burst. Mum would sigh, and throw the tea towel across to us at the door, and we would shimmy across the floor on the towel, like a penguin, so we didn’t leave prints. Argh, my shoulders have already inserted themselves somewhere up near my temples just thinking about it!
So, I hate cleaning. Fortunately, so does my husband, and we are lucky enough to have a wonderful couple that come and clean for us. So between their visits, our fridge can look a little less than its best. Fully stocked with all manner of tasty treats, but push those treats aside and you’ll find that some of the celery leaves have frozen to the back wall because I still cannot figure out the correct setting for the thermostat and I did try to scrape it off but then someone started crying and well I promptly forgot. Then, of course, I saw it every other day and made mental notes to get to that, but it fell a long way down my list of things to do, way past the things I want to do, past the things I have to do, right down to the bottom of that pile labelled things I really should do but don’t want to right now.
So there I was, three in the morning, staring at those frozen green blobs that used to be celery leaves on Instagram, and I realised that I now live with a twenty-something. Our au pair is 23 years old. Adorable, sweet, amazing with the girls, vibrant, quirky, wonderful with washing (another task I’m haphazard with at best, too many years hanging out and folding laundry growing up), inspiringly creative, and it turns out, a regular poster on Instagram. I scroll through her feed to find all sorts of pictures of our house, different corners, different angles, things I recognise straight away but haven’t always seen from that angle.
The fridge, though, that bothers me. A secret shame, a failing of mine, evidence of my poor ability to keep house, even with help, out there for the world to see. Well, her 116 followers and the anyone else in the world who happened along her hashtag. Underneath were three comments, all in Spanish. It doesn’t matter, I tell myself, It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. I turn my phone off and close my eyes.
I toss and turn, but I can’t get away from memories of staring eyes that follow me through the locker room to my locker, from whispers that were shared behind cupped hands, the jibes, the jokes, the pointing, and the outright laughing at me, it all comes flooding back. I may have graduated high school but clearly, I have not left it behind.
I snap open my laptop, and cut and paste the comments into google translate. The comments have absolutely nothing to do with me or my lack of housekeeping skills. Of course, they don’t. ‘Cleaning the fridge’ they say, in Spanish.
I am thrilled. Our sweet, twenty-something, who posts everything on the internet, has finally cleaned the celery off the back of the fridge. I wonder if it is too soon to tell her that I love her?
A few days later, I open the fridge to get the duck out for dinner. The celery leaves are still there. So, not cleaning the fridge in fact. I wonder if I should post another photo with #busted underneath?