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Doing the Dishes

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

“Seb, before we can play The Sims, you have to do the dishes!”

I dragged myself downstairs, reluctant to submerge my hands in the myriad of ceramics sitting in that dreaded stainless steel sink. I had already slept the day away; why should I get something done now of all times?

If I do these dishes, I might miss a text from somebody, I thought.

I might not get to play The Sims 4 because of those dishes.

Maybe these dishes will take all night.

Maybe I won’t be able to get enough rest for the first day back at school.

Maybe I won’t be able to finish my homework.

Wait, did I have homework?

I groaned: “Might as well get it over with.”

Feet pounding on the linoleum floor and landing on the crimson woven rug, I hurriedly cleared the counter, carried around bags of produce and quickly swiped the powdered coffee creamer off of the dark granite counters before positioning myself in front of the sink.

So first, we rinse.

I jostled the faucet, ice-cold water spitting from its mouth. I bathed each dish in the sputtering stream, granules of freezing water adhering to my oversized t-shirt.

The dishes began to pile up on the counter; a stack of white bowls stood in the corner of my eye as I channeled my focus towards the profusion of silver spoons and forks. Kudzu of short glass cups sat to my right as I washed each utensil clean.

Seconds later, the ceramics that besieged me from the sink had turned into a fallen empire that I had conquered, precariously teetering between peace and disaster.

Next, we start the actual cleaning.

I squeezed out a drop of Dawn onto the blue sponge and ran it under the small spurt of water. I handled each dish, running the sponge through every crevice and folding it over the brim of every cup and bowl.

Not gonna lie, I have an affinity for certain dishes. For example, there’s a white bowl that’s the perfect shape and depth, and these glasses fit perfectly in the palm of my hand, and—

Is Christina playing The Sims right now?

That exact thought abruptly entered my serene mindset and disrupted my rhythm.

I need to hurry.

I bumped up the faucet a little more, the stream turning from a gentle flow to a hasty beam. I felt that this was not enough; I decided to push the faucet as far back as possible. The faucet was a gun shooting out bullet after bullet, and I matched my speed to the quick gunfire of the pipe.

I had just begun working around the rim of some stunning plates that my mom bought in Florida. I clumsily placed one on the counter, hurrying to finish washing up before my arm nudged the stack of glasses that sat to my right.

A loud crash penetrated through the atmosphere; millions of fragments lay at my feet as they collided with the tiles, and I quickly became a knight surrounded by the carnage of several glass cups. I had just begun to develop a swift cadence doing the chore, but that moment caused my inclination to evaporate into thin air and left me loathing the act more than I ever had before.

I instinctively ran towards the large door that led to the garage and grabbed the broom that read “Baguio” on its plastic green handle and the dustpan in an adjacent hue. I crouched to the floor and scooped the shards into the dustpan with a cursory sweeping motion. To ensure that the area was “clear,” I gave the broom one more scrappy run under the counters and called it a night.

I no longer had the motivation to play The Sims 4; I had already spent my night fulfilling my own duties, so I didn’t want to spend the rest of the night caring for somebody else’s needs, let alone one made of pixels.

Instead, I opted for my happy place: the shower. At least I could wash away what had happened, like I had washed away the mess from the plates.

But as I started forward, I felt a shard of glass immediately pierce my bare foot.

I thought I had cured any possibility of a glass-afflicted ailment, but my rush to accomplish more tasks in the shortest time possible turned into scars and wounds. There was nothing I could do but stand on one foot and scream in silence, but I soon picked the gravel-sized piece of glass out of the bottom of my foot and discarded it into the void of the trash can.

As my little fit came to an end, a number of dishes still sat on the counter. I almost refused to continue washing up, but the job needed to be done.

So I did it.

I turned the sink on again and cleaned up, a new abundance of care in my actions. And as I continued doing so, I came across my favorite Reese’s mug. It was a party favor from one of my best friends, Lydia; perfect shape, size, etc.—I could go on and on about this mug.

And I soon realized that mug would be there in the morning to house a flavorsome serving of french vanilla chai; I could even visualize myself pouring in a heaping helping of milk and watching the dark liquid swirl into a light, warm tan. And don’t even get me started on a good old plate of adobo; it’s almost like my own ambrosia.

Whenever I did end up taking my shower, the deluge struck my scalp soothingly, gluing my coarse hair to my face.

The shower is almost curative for me. I always feel a sense of tranquility every time I stand under the warm outflow, and while this feeling is temporary, there’s something about the act that causes time to halt and compels me to stand there with interminable delight.

I just let the water run and stood in one spot, my feet cemented to the floor. I wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was the water. I just happily rolled along, extensively mending myself and enjoying the process as I did so.

The next morning, I opened the cabinet and took out my beloved Reese’s mug. I filled it about halfway with tap water and popped it in the microwave for two minutes. When the little chamber beeped, I pulled out the mug and dropped a bag of french vanilla chai in it, awaiting the delicacy that took time to assemble but was always worth it in the end. And just minutes later, I stood there, sipping away at the sweet pale brown liquid that blew steam in my face.

For me, joy is found in the moment. I’ve realized that I need to take my time in the present because the future is, well, the future; there was a sense of peace when I was washing the dishes, so why was I hurrying away from serenity when I was perfectly fine in the moment?

What I’ve learned is that you should never rush; otherwise, you could shatter a fraction of your life. And when this aspect inevitably hits the floor and transforms into a pile of despair, you have to take your time cleaning it up; otherwise, you could end up getting even more hurt.

A shower is basically the human equivalent of washing the dishes—you clean yourself up and prepare for whatever comes your way. Nobody wants to be dirty white they’re living life, so you have to take your time and get ready for whatever is next in your life.

Time is only fleeting if you don’t make the most of it.

So for now, I’ll merrily continue my thirty-minute-long showers, and when the water turns cold, I’ll get out, brew myself a large cup of chai, and know that I’m ready to move along with life.

- Sebastian Paragas

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