There it sat all by itself on the corner lot, no trees, no bushes, no flowers. Just a square little—empty—stucco house. Cleaning it for the next renters was my job for the day. The pay was pretty good and, at first, it didn’t appear that it would be that much work. Until I started in the—very small—kitchen. Every single cabinet had been baited with “roach bait” and every shelf was littered with dusty, dead bodies. Vacuuming and scrubbing with antiseptic cleaner (my fingertips are still sore from the scouring), wiping everything down again. The oven—oh, the oven. Leftover grease and burned on food, SOS pads aplenty, more scrubbing til my fingertips were numb. Over and over, I washed out my cleaning cloths, more lemon antiseptic and more dead roaches. Up on the ladder to wash the glass globes on the light fixture, balancing on the little ladder and hoping I would keep my footing. Six hours later, the little empty house was clean and shiny, no roaches, no spider webs. All ready for a new family to come in and spread their things about, setting their cans of soup and tuna and spaghetti sauce on the shelves I’d scrubbed, wash their dishes in the sink I’d unplugged, digging out some kind of goo with an old key I found on a key ring in the sink under a pile of smelly rags and sponges.
I will never forget the house I cleaned when I was cleaning my way through college. I had to do it. The sink was full of stagnant water and the drain was full of some kind of mushy, smelly stuff, which I discovered was old, wet, rotting Top Ramen. People talk of eating this low budget food—college students, low income folks. I will never, ever eat Top Ramen. No matter how hungry or how broke I am. It had been in the sink for who knows how long and I had to dig in there (with the thickest rubber gloves I could find) and pull it all out. The smell will never leave me. I detoured a bit—my point being, when you really have to do something to get somewhere, you do it.
I am making my way toward Blue Diamond in Nu Skin Enterprises. A position that equates to freedom, freedom to write my stories and live in my old fashioned house by the water—with my big front porch and braid rugs and everything just the way I’ve always wanted it to be. I know I will get there and I know it is not going to be easy. This job paid for my plane fare to a very important training this month and by the time I’m sitting in the seats at the conference, learning and listening, my fingertips will no longer be sore. The dead roaches will be a faint memory and the people who live in the little stucco house on Alvin Street will be preparing a meal in a clean kitchen, enjoying their little house, and as the sun sets on the little stucco house, a family will smile to know they have a house, even if it is a little stucco house on a lot with no trees, no bushes and no flowers. To them, this is home. For me it was a step toward freedom.