Sorry, Mr. Miyagi

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Oh man. My right arm hurts. I would have been as frustrating of a student for Mr. Miyagi as I was for my college guitar teacher. I’ve been doing this window cleaning dance. Inside. Back outside. Nope. The smudges and new smears are definitely on the inside. Back inside I go. Back out again. I’m just bad at cleaning windows. Surely it’s my technique or the products I am using. I think I spray way too much stuff on. Wax on, wax off, Daniel-son. That’s all I know. Adapted from Karate Kid. So, I decided to just sit down and I stare out at the lake. The lake, the beautiful lake. Wow. And the blue sky. The sun bouncing off of the water. Why did I not do that first? Go outside. Sit there and just relax. In its beauty and peaceful inviting existence. I got too obsessed with cleaning windows. Ughhh.

I can look past the smeared up windows even with the hyped-up sun beaming in. It would help if the sun could just go under a cloud for a bit. It appears to be a sort of mother figure, standing over my shoulder, highlighting all of the places on the window where I have failed. The handprints are gone but now I’ve created new distractions. All over the place. And most are up way too high to be credited to the kids. I really feel like the windows are silently laughing at me, while trees around the lake are all crying. I’ve used far too many paper towels. I’m beginning to think I should have left those windows alone. I should have called in for help. Some better cleaning helper reinforcements.

I’ve been trying to clean my in-laws house, specifically their beautiful windows. Not because they asked me to or anything. After my shotty work, they may kindly say,”No, really you shouldn’t have.” And mean it. They are coming back into town for the summer. We visited their lake house several times while they were away and I wanted to hide the evidence. Not that I needed to. They generously welcome our visits but I just hoped to leave the place cleaner than we found it. Ha! Nice thought. They have an amazing view of the lake. Most days, I don’t tend to mind handprints or pollen or other window gunk but it’s not my house. I also don’t have a lake in my back yard. My view, comparatively speaking, doesn’t need a professional window cleaner. Even I noticed my boys’ hand prints all over the lake house doors and their giant windows. Their windows are gorgeous, huge and everywhere. I think my brain tends to strategically overlook handprints, floor gunk and awful paint jobs. Especially at my own house. I think it’s a kind of effective way to conserve brain energy. “Don’t focus on that weird blob on the kitchen floor, Amelia. Or the handprints. Unload the dishes.” Nice. Thanks, brain.

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As I’m cleaning the windows, obviously not engrossed in the task at hand or my expert skills, I got to thinking about the two sides to windows. And how it doesn’t matter if I clean the inside of the window if the outside is covered in dead bugs, pollen, and sun juice. And vice versa. So what if I get the outside gunk off but fail to clean the sunblock hand prints, boogers, and juice box drippings off of the inside? You really need to clean both sides. Unless you want to make yourself crazy. I ran out of paper towels and had to leave the inside semi-cleaned but the outside untouched. What a waste of time, it seemed, as I looked out at the lake water. Ahhhh. That’s it. I’m trying to get the windows clean so I can better see the lake. The big picture. Windows really aren’t worth cleaning if they have no view. Or if you’re never going to go and look out of them because you’re too focused and knit picking on the glass.

I also think that it doesn’t quite matter how good we make ourselves look on the outside if we haven’t worked on the inside too. We aren’t see through, so to speak, but there is something completely people-drawing and freeing in transparency. You know what you’re going to get. I don’t like to see one side of a person only to be completely surprised by the inside. We are all going to have proof of our existence, our human imperfections, no matter how hard we try. There are going to be smudges, smears, fingerprints, perhaps dead bug prints. All of my kids have also fancied licking the sliding glass door, at some point in their toddlerhood. Tongue prints, I suppose. Strange behavior. Come to think of it, maybe they just wanted me to let them inside.

The lake house windows could use some cleaning after my cleaning. And I could use some expert tips. Sorry, Mr. Miyagi. For the next time. I still feel guilty about all of those poor paper towels. I just couldn’t stop. No conscious. I will most likely think strongly about planting several trees. I will also try to use the door handles more often. I don’t think my big hand prints are nearly as cute as my boys’ knee level prints. I will also try to think about the smudge prints I have on my outside and on the inside too. And try tending to both sides. Even if I do it in an imperfect way. In hopes that I can better see the big picture.

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