If you’re looking for deeper meaning, look elsewhere. This is a moment in my (former) life – the life when all four of my kids lived in my house and I was better at writing moments down.
How to vacuum perfect lines in my living room carpet: First you have to move out all the furniture. Not all the furniture, because if you try to move my piano, the front legs will snap off. So leave it. Besides, it’s parallel to the wall, so… straight lines. But move out the bench. Move out the couch. Move out the huge ottoman. Move out the two wood-and-leather chairs. Take them to the front room or to the kitchen or just scoot them into the other half of the living room if you want, and then you can scoot them back when it’s time to do that half.
Now the extras: take Katie’s violin stand and her scads of loose music sheets and shove them in the closet. Pick up Ellie’s piano books (which are always right next to the piano so they’re easy to find) and toss them into her piano bag, which also sits right next to the piano, but rarely with any books inside. Pick up blankets, which we always need in the mornings, because in summer we sleep with the windows open and the living room is so, so cold after all night with open windows. Fold and stack the blankets on the kitchen table if it’s clean and a kitchen chair if the table is foody. Pick up the books from the floor. Matthew’s reading Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” right now, but only in daylight (because it’s a pretty good scare), so it’s sitting on the floor by the big living room window. Move the plants and the three-foot-tall yellow vase into the kitchen.
Now look. You have a nearly-empty living room. Now, starting with the wall the piano’s on, plug in the vacuum cleaner. From the corner where the fireplace wall meets the piano wall, move straight along the wall from north to south, slowly. You’ll see a line forming in the carpet where the vacuum makes all the carpet fibers stand up at attention. When you hit the bookshelf (but don’t hit the bookshelf, really, because it leaves a black mark on the bottom where the vacuum tries to kiss it), turn the vacuum cleaner 180 degrees and move it so the edge matches up with the edge of the line you’ve just created. Then travel along that straight line from south to north until you reach the fireplace wall. Turn 180 degrees again, and shove the vacuum over so you can match up the edge with the previous edge. Repeat until you’ve arrived at the far (west) wall. Step back to take a look at your amazing work and see how nice it looks when all the lines line up.