On housekeeping, and other things I do not do

I’ve never been what you’d call “domestic.”

In my early twenties, I’d sigh loudly and roll my eyes about having to take out the trash or do the dishes.

“I guess I have to do everything myself around here,” I’d mutter under my breath. I lived alone.

My laundry style is what I like to call Laundry Chicken, wherein I wait until I am absolutely out of underwear, including swimsuit bottoms, and things are no longer passing a cursory sniff test. Then I do a load and leave it in the dryer indefinitely, plucking items out as needed for several days. This usually goes on until Bix or I catches the other in the act, compelling the guilty party to fold and put away the remainder (Bix always does it). It’s a close relative of Dishwasher Chicken, which I would also play if we lived somewhere with a dishwasher.

And then there’s cooking. I don’t really do that, either. I’ve generally made a habit of dating good cooks and hinting my way into dinner invitations from friends when they’re unavailable. It’s not that I “can’t” cook; in fact, it bugs me when people say things like “Oh gosh I just can’t even, I burn pasta, just frozen pizzas for me when X is out of town, ha ha ha!” People say things like that.

I can cook. I just don’t much care for it. I don’t want to look up recipes or buy jars of things I’ll use a teaspoon of once. I’m not going to mince anything. I’d just as soon eat the same few things, simple and easy, and have more time for other things I like more, like reading or riding my bike or otherwise avoiding folding the laundry. Look, I have some good qualities (self-awareness, for one), but you don’t want to live with me.

There’s one exception to my general disinterest in keeping the home fires burning. I like to bake.

I resisted baking for a long time for a variety of not-particularly-compelling reasons. It felt so Mrs. Cleaver, like I’d buy a bundt pan and suddenly feel the urge to take my husband’s last name and get started on a brood of sturdy children and other things I thought capital-F feminists weren’t supposed to do. Also, it produces a lot of dishes.

But there’s something comforting about the systematic process of baking. I like the simplicity of it, the pragmatism. If you leave that ingredient out, this won’t come out right. You just need the essentials. It makes sense.

I like systems. When I pack for a trip, I have a mental checklist. Skis, boots, poles. Beacon, probe, shovel. Weed, water, food. (Just kidding, I’m not in college anymore. I’m an adult who bakes.)

When I get to camp, I do things in order. Set up a tent. Boil some water. Write in my journal (“Dear Journey Journal…”). Check the map. When I’m out in the world, whether I’m sleeping under the stars or in a tent or at a hut or whatever, I don’t mind domesticity. I don’t mind shaking out my tent in the morning, tinkering with my ski bindings, lovingly organizing my rack after a long climb.

And then I come home and leave all my shit sitting in the living room for a week and a half, grabbing my contact case or a jacket or the French press from my backpack on an as-needed basis until, finally, things smell too bad to leave them be any longer.

Maybe I’m sentimental and like to savor the feeling of time spent in the backcountry until it’s time to go out again. Or maybe I’m just a revolting garbage person. A little of both, probably. I am comfortable with this.

I make a batch of muffins most weeks. Sometimes they are healthy and contain things like millet and shredded carrots. Sometimes I indulge and scrap whole grains and veggies for chocolate chips. Regardless of what’s in there, though, I have this time, this hour each week, where I detach from whatever bullshit I’ve got going on and mix a bunch of ingredients together and am left, in the end, with snacks for the rest of the week.

And, I guess, a kitchen to clean.


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