I’ve been mopping a lot of floors lately.
Every week, Rocky Mountain Day Camp purchases over 1,000 pieces of individual fruit. This fruit is consumed by a hundred young humans, with clumsy mouths and antsy fingers. Across the waxed linoleum sprays innards of plums, orange guts, banana mushes and strawberry tophats. A real smoothie, of sorts. We’ll call it “Floormageddon” and sell it to Jamba.
As head janitor, I take a lot of pride in my floors. My arch nemesis, Capt. Red Seedless, is hellbent on making my hallway look like Paul Bunyan went frolicking through Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a weekly war for the winos.
I’ve found a lot of catharsis in mopping my hallway; the same satisfaction felt in a father overlooking a freshly mown backyard. And in the face of my proud work falling asunder, never praised, re-dyed unremittingly by the Great Grape War of Summer 2k15, I’ve realized:
Nobody notices a clean floor.
I work with kids. Kids are dirty. I work with kids’ parents. At times, parents are even nastier. While a child will find jubilance in pouncing upon a full pouch of Capri Sun like a landmine, Owen’s mother finds an even deeper pleasure in bleating about their pride and joy’s minor road bumps. Like sticky, stained shorts from Capri Sun bombs.
If, after Owen decides to paint the town Fruit Punch and nobody is there to scrub up the aftermath, I’m getting a phone call:
“You really need to mop your floors.”
It’s a funny job, then, to clean the floor. In theory, you scrub to kill the germs carried by the soles of light-ups and stilettos alike. Aesthetics are secondary. In reality, when mopping a floor, your success is measured in gallons of apathy. While your dentist wants to see you smile, your custodian strives only for your indifference.
So this thought has been swimming around my noggin’ all week: nobody notices a clean floor. I write tonight because that is my metaphor. My metafloor. Please laugh at my puns.
I know a girl whose laugh could spin windmills and cure cancer. She’s got a giggle that the deaf can hear and the blind can touch. This girl is buried in my pocket making sculptures from the lint inside, humming the chorus of OutKast’s “Roses” and painting her toes with every color of the sun. She’s a glowing body blanketed by a warm soul; an inside-out definition of beauty.
This girl compliments a clean floor.
But she is transient. Like a full moon, I see her flicker in the sky, momentarily, one night every month. And the phases that pass between her blink of radiance are black: nothing. The infinite emptiness of space. A mortal abyss.
This girl craves a dirty floor.
She swallows the sun. She’s a dredge in the meadow. A thorn in the side. A rebuttal to everyone around her. And in her loneliness she weeps, helplessly, as if fate is out to get her, as if her world is everybody else’s fault.
Quite simply: she’s always bummed out.
Now, I want you to listen to OutKast’s “Roses” as we tie all this together.
I’ve been through depression, through heartbreak. I grew up hating a lot of things. I know what it means to be unhappy, insecure, in need of attention and love. I know that the world isn’t all daisies, that people file for divorce, that lovers get hit by cars. I know what it means to lose yourself, to fall crazy in love, to be your own worst enemy. I used to think that bad things happened to me, and that happiness wasn’t a choice. I used to think that your body made you beautiful.
Then I started mopping the floor.
Suddenly, it was clear that the most beautiful humans are those who are laughing. That happiness is gravity. It’s irresistible. That the sexiest people are the ones who smile, who cheer, who sing, who treat everything like it was supposed to happen. They’re dancing as the world burns to smithereens. Decades spent lifting weights could never outclass a goofy grin, a vibrant chuckle, a big, fuzzy hug. I realized that nobody is impressed by how much you hate something.
That the best people are the ones who choose to find love in everything in this world.
Cassidy said it best: we live in a paradise. A cruise ship on a cruise ship on a cruise ship on a private yacht in the middle of an ocean reserved all for ourselves. When you complain about anything in this ungodly privileged life of ours, you’ve simply spilled your Piña Colada.
So for me, you, and the girl who could move mountains, we always have a choice when this little life gets the best of us:
“Fuck, my drink spilled everywhere. Look at this filthy floor!”
“Grab the mop. Let’s get drunk!”