There comes a time in the process of selling a house when every homeowner realizes he or she is an enormously disgusting slob. Perhaps not of the sort that Hoarders would feature, saving every milk carton purchased since 1964 and failing to recognize a toilet brush for what it is, but the more insidious sort: the sort that does not have a professional housekeeper or an OCD diagnosis.
Before putting our house on the market, I used to think I was a marginally clean person. I picked up clutter, scrubbed the bathroom weekly, even went so far as to institute a tri-monthly schedule of scouring the grout on the kitchen floor with bleach and an inordinate amount of elbow grease. I now boast biceps like Schwarzenegger and calluses like a steel worker.
This, however, means nothing.
That deep clean I did annually, taking down all the Roman shades and gently washing them in the bathtub to kill the mold possibly hibernating in the wooden crannies? Meaningless. The strict dusting schedule to prevent buildup of mites that make every season a living hell for my allergies? Meaningless. The weekends wasted on maintaining the flower beds, which have a tendency to get annihilated by my friendly-yet-bull-of-a-dog? Meaningless.
I discovered this futility the past few weeks, as I prepared our beloved bungalow to go on the market. I repainted each room, polished the cabinets with oil soap, stashed my collectible Irish Barbies and hid heaps of epic crap in the attic to prepare. But as I completed each check mark on my to-do list, twelve more items sprouted up to take its place. Why had I never noticed the sludge and fly corpses that accumulate in the window jambs? For that matter, had I washed the windows even once since I moved in? Oh my gosh, look at the cobwebs that have collected in the ceiling corners! Where in the name of puppy breath did they all come from?
A few items I have never, ever cleaned in my house:
- Light fixtures. They serve as coffins for various insects, aka the honored dead.
- Electrical outlet plates. Upon closer examination, I see that yes, they should be cleaned at least once a millennia.
- Sliding closet door tracks. Why have I never noticed the pile of lint and carpet detritus crudding up this neglected space?
- Mirrored closet doors. Is it so hard to pull out the Windex and flex those elbows? I say yes.
- Behind my easel. I won’t even tell you of the hideousness I discovered back there. Let’s just say, if you’ve seen Creepshow, you might be marginally prepared.
- The windows and all respective jambs. As mentioned above.
- Top of the refrigerator. If I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
- The freezer. It’s a good thing no one ever looks in there.
This is just a small sample of tasks that will probably remain untouched for all eternity. In addition to all the regular work involved in just making the house presentable for the intense scrutiny involved in open houses and surprise visits from prospective buyers, these tasks stretch out before me in an endless taunting of to-do list hell. I have resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t complete all the above items in time, but I haven’t quite come to terms with my new identity as a slob.
It’s okay, though. If we sell the house, it will be someone else’s problem.