It’s a familiar ritual by now. Every May and August, my daughter and I pile cleaning supplies and garbage bags into the car, and we go clean the apartment that she’s moving into or the apartment she’s moving out of. We’ve done it so many times that we don’t even have to talk about which tasks we’re going to do. I start with the bathroom while she gathers any garbage and carries it to the curb.
The flat she’s been sharing with Boy-in-Black and First Extra is the bottom of an old house that was probably beautiful in its day, but is now dilapidated. When my daughter moved in, she made yellow curtains for the kitchen and we painted the cupboards blue, which improved the room considerably. The one good thing about all the rental properties in the university area is that any small effort you make is a huge improvement.
The afternoon sun was shining on the front porch when I stepped out to sweep off dead leaves and peeling paint. Through the branches of a sprawling crabapple tree, I could see a bunch of college guys carrying broken furniture to the curb. A car pulled into the house next door, and a girl in a dress stepped out, with an older couple who were likely her parents. “The graduation ceremony must be over,” my daughter said. Farther up the street, under the branches of an old maple, I could see a few more seniors, young men in dress shirts and ties.
My daughter has said that this will be the last summer she lives at home. Sailor Boy will be moving back to the area this fall, and she’ll be living with him. So I felt nostalgic as I swept the stained, scarred hardwood floors of the old house. “This might be the last time we clean an apartment together,” I said to her.
She looked at me. “Somehow, I doubt it.”