by Paige Grover
It seems like I was in Ruidoso, New Mexico, months ago, October, at least. But actually, I came back from Ruidoso only nine days ago. My brain has been softened and kneaded into the fabric of whatever it is I’ve been watching for days. I wake up and get to laugh, loudly. I get to scream-sing in my shower, the way I’ve only ever done in the comfort of my childhood home, something I haven’t done with another person in the same house as me since I was in high school living with my parents.
There’s a porch that belongs to each tenant in the eight-apartment building, but Morgan’s is in the sun, so Talia and I find ourselves commanding the deck for a morning that somehow slinks into afternoon. We eat and blink and then it’s dark and we’re watching something about tiger breeding until we switch to a sitcom from decades ago. I twitch at jokes that have not aged well.
My stomach is never exactly where it needs to be. I’m eating ice cream sandwiches like Klondike laced them with something, and I’m taking more showers. I shame myself for the amount of water I use for nothing. When I was young and sick with strep throat, which happened at least once a year, I would wake my mother in the middle of the night, throat searing, and she would sit me in her shower, turn the water really warm, and sit on the toilet seat as steam filled the room.
Sometimes there’s not much else to do but sit in the shower and watch the tiled wall dissolve into a million reflections that you can never make out. Or spend a long time figuring out how to write “watch steam fill the room,” but in a poetic way. I’m reminded of my mother’s bed sheets as I wash mine; the muted metallic green or bronze of them, the softness of them against freshly shaven legs, the smell of her in them. What have people pressed their faces to, to try and inhale me again?
I’m reminded of my mom when I get a dizzying need to clean everything, how I feel a tranquil exhilaration afterwards. I never understood why my mom would get into these zones, ferociously focused on cleaning everything, quick to move your ass if you were nonessential or distracting. My father would take my sister and I out to Dave and Buster’s whenever this happened. I think she did it to feel some relief of controlling something in her life. I have no idea what is happening, and I am unsure of how long quarantine will last, and I do not know if it’ll get worse or start to get better. I don’t know who I want to be in the midst of it all.
I’m cleaning every day.
Copyright Paige Grover. Used by Permission.
Paige Grover is a third year BFA in Studio Art’s major with a minor in creative writing. She currently spends time trying to write sentences she’s never seen before and getting better at cooking. She misses the mountains every day.