It has been six days since the discovery of flea "dirt" -- the blood meal that fleas excrete like little pepper grains -- in our cat's coat, and seven since our vacuum happened to break down. Impeccable timing. While we're fortunate to have caught the problem very early -- our indoor-only cat almost certainly picked up the fleas from an indoor-outdoor cat whose house she shared while we were traveling over Christmas -- I'm still kicking myself for not having the vet treat her on a preventive level, knowing the risks of boarding her with D's friend, the owner. Never mind that said owner failed to mention that he suspected his cat's flea treatments hadn't been working. I try not to think about what we could have done differently and concentrate on getting the borax distributed evenly over the carpet. And here I was a week ago, just hoping to get the vacuum repaired in time to do a once-over on the house before this baby's arrival.
Would I call that pre-flea impulse nesting? Not really. That instinct everybody keeps asking me about is there, but only so far as the preservation of future sanity goes. Of course I want to get the baby room furniture assembled; the baby laundry washed and folded; the extra meals cooked, labeled, and frozen -- so I won't have to do it once the baby is here. But no, I'm not scrambling to organize my sock drawer by brand and color or alphabetize the spice cabinet.
In the name of making more space, I would love to purge our closets of clothes we haven't worn in several years, books from long-finished college classes that we haven't been able to resell, electronics that are obsolete enough to be laughed off Craigslist. While we've gone as minimal and practical as possible in deciding what we truly need or wish to have for this tiny person, who promises to outgrow it all quickly enough, the sheer volume of what other well-meaning friends have been sending us in the last few weeks is beginning to threaten our storage capacity. Or at least the limits I currently believe in maintaining -- yes, there is always a way to make room, but is that really a practice I want to embrace without reservations when this child will be accumulating things wherever we are for the next 18 years?
These thoughts scroll through my mind as I swing the glass back and forth, back and forth, over the room D has helped me clear of all furniture except the couches. The next morning, I will vacuum with our freshly serviced vacuum, hoping that the borax will have desiccated any eggs or fleas overnight. It's not the kind of purge I envisioned, but the irony of it is almost funny. Not funny enough, though, to keep me from asking why this now, of all things?
I finish dusting the carpet, set the heavy glass on the stairs, and massage my aching hand. It's advisable to work the borax into the deeper fibers, so I make a slow circuit of the room in blue running shoes turned gray from their coating of powder. The cat mumbles to herself upstairs, giving up on me for the night, and it's finally quiet. I've been lucky not to have the raging insomnia so many women have told me is part and parcel of the third trimester, but I am on this evening a little too overcharged to want sleep -- I'd just welcome the chance to sit. Still, the room goes on, suddenly much larger as I make myself side-step, ankle to ankle, around the perimeter, working my way back toward the stairs.
Just let this be done, I think, tempted to turn my methodical pacing into a mad grapevine. There are too many other things I'd rather be doing to prepare not just our home but my state of mind for this baby. But to give in to that desire -- to give up my controlled march so I can get some control back elsewhere -- is the paradoxical opposite of surrender. Maintaining this slow dance is the very act of yielding that I know I'm terrible at. And I'm about to bring into the world a little being who will need me to do just that -- ignore the closets, the old books and electronics, and the mental space they occupy.
So I traverse the room, step by step, carrying us both across the powdery landscape I've committed to tamping down. And I tell myself that nesting for me may be clearing out the detritus of old lives. But only so that I can take on this new one.
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