The best part of vacuuming is making lines. No matter what direction they go, vacuum lines shout that the carpet is clean. I’ve often thought that if I would just drag a stick across the rug in a pattern, people would think it was freshly vacuumed.
Over the years I’ve tried different patterns to make sure the lines are symmetrical or creative or expressive. I almost feel like it’s half-science, half-art. You want people to walk in and see the lines . . . so they know you’ve cleaned for them.
But it doesn’t last long.
After a day or so, the lines are gone, replaced with footprints. Usually, when I see the footprints, I think, “Oh, now I have to vacuum again.” It’s like something that needs to be fixed.
If the carpet has lines, it feels like the whole house is in order.
But one morning, a couple of years ago, it was different.
It was a Sunday morning. As I walked out of the bedroom and looked into the living room, there were no lines. There were footprints — hundreds of them. It was the exact opposite of the perfection I strive for.
But it made me smile.
They were little footprints, not big ones. They came from the day before when our granddaughters, Averie and Elena (age 6 and 3 a the time), had spent hours with me in that room. The foam blocks had become castles as Averie told non-stop stories of dragons and princesses and kings and moats. The wooden train cars kept Elena occupied as she scooted animals and trees and signs across the tracks. We talked and laughed and played until dinner. Mostly, we loved.
The room had been filled with shrieks of delight with wrestling and pillow fights and “tickle bugs.” It was a room of giggles and joys and memories being born.
It’s what that room was for.
The next morning, there were no lines. But instead of the usual frustration, there was a deep satisfaction with what had happed in that room. The footprints were a joyful reminder of what the room was really for.
Now, I still make lines when I vacuum. But when little people are coming, vacuuming isn’t to get rid of the footprints.
It’s to prepare for them.