Armed with a putty knife and a tub full of lemon-scented Clorox wipes, I set to work on what is, quite possibly, the grossest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m scraping dried cat crap off the tile floor—and this isn’t the first time.
Lately one of my wife’s and my cats, an orange and white tabby named Spookie, decided he’s too good to poop in the litterbox. Don’t ask me how or why he came to this conclusion, but he’s a cat and as such has the traits of a bona fide asshole buried within his fluffy cuteness, even if those traits are buried deep, deep in this particular cat.
Whatever the reason, his distaste for the litter’s grit or his inner dicknose shining through, Spookie leaves an equally spaced, parallel to the wall, connect-the-dot trail of turds. (I swear, he’s using a yardstick to measure the distance.)
Worse still, he’s been force-fed heavy doses of antibiotics that have given him the kitty trots—thus the necessity for my putty knife. And though I try to clean often, it never takes long for his deposits to dry out and harden, gluing themselves to the floor like forgotten Jell-o stains.
As one might expect, thousands of things sound infinitely better than this: helping Batman save the innocent from Arkham City’s inmates, watching Scott Pilgrim vs. the World for the umpteen-hundredth time, sleeping, writing, drawing, or—heck—I think that I’d prefer stomaching a Nickleback/Ke$ha concert. But cleaning up cat diarrhea is one of the dozens of chores spread throughout my day. It’s one of those things that makes me a “responsible” adult, like having a teaching job that helps pay the bills, puts food on the table, buys kitty litter for Spookie to ignore, and Clorox wipes to clean the gelatinized waste he leaves behind. In between lecture prep and paper grading, there is dinner to cook; dishes to clean, dry, put away; bathrooms to shine; rooms to tidy; clothes to wash, fold, stash; cars to gas, wash, upkeep; dogs to let out; lawns to mow; leaves to pick up; groceries to purchase, forget at the store, and reclaim; errands to run; appointments to attend that ensure my health and happiness and prepare me to face all these things day after day after day. (I don’t even want to imagine my life once I have a child to worry about.) Ninety-eight percent of my day is filled with actions that I don’t want to do, but they are my “need to”s, “have to”s, and “musts.” Yet they are more, too.
They are my love letters to my wife, lending a hand and performing these tasks so that she doesn’t have to. They keep my mind from running away with itself. Lastly, they are my excuses and rationalizations to why I ignore my “want to”s, “compeled to”s, and “enjoys.”
I push aside my writing in order to pretend adulthood. I forget about that talk of “You can be anything you want, so long as you put your mind to it.” I stash away my revision pens and postpone those agent queries to keep my feet on the tile, my hands to the Clorox wipes and putty knives.
I realize that growing up enables you take on more responsibility, to do all the things that need doing. And I realize that the problem isn’t within the tasks themselves. Where things have gone wrong is that I’m letting these chores get in my way. I’m the one pushing and forgetting and stashing my writer’s life away to live a simple, risk-free life that fulfills the expectations of who I am supposed to be at this day, this age. I’ve let my obligations steamroll my options.
Here is where I’m supposed to stand up, wash the cat shit from my skin, and rein in all those lofty aspirations I used to chase after. Here is where I should be. Here is where I understand that my adulthood is no longer about chasing my dreams; it’s about achieving them.
There are too many possibilities to go ‘round, and I’m tired of my shoddy excuses.
True, I’ll still be obliging my obligations and pretending my way into adulthood—and scraping the Spookie splatters from the floor—but here’s to remembering myself. Here’s to making time for creation. Here’s to my once and future words.