Layce and I were standing in the kitchen. “How’s The Room?” I asked. Emma’s room has a complete identity of its own—like Pluto when it was a planet and not a…what is it now? We don’t say Emma’s room. We refer to it as The Room and we all know what we’re talking about.
“It’s okay,” Layce replied. “All her clothes are on the floor, but she is redoing her dresser so I’m giving her a pass. Besides my mother claims I threw my clothes on the floor. We probably all did as teenagers.”
I glanced over at her while I lined up the cans in the pantry so that all the labels faced outward. “I didn’t. Dirty clothes went in my hamper, clean clothes in my dresser and the outfit for the next day on my chair in order of how I was going to put them on.”
“What?” Layce said.
“You know—pants on the bottom, shirt, then underpants, then socks—the order in which I would get dressed.”
“You still do that.”
“Good habits start early,” I said.
“Did your mother think you were weird?”
“She still does. It makes her nervous when I come home for a visit. She hires a house cleaner to come in and do up the guest room and clean out the fridge so no expired food will accidentally make it to the dinner table. She hasn’t lived down the ten year old salad dressing. The fridge is a biohazard until I come home. And when I get there she tells me not to look at the basement because one time I had a panic attack. I do go into the laundry room and clean out the dryer vent so at least it gets done once a year. I don’t want them to die in a fire.”
Emma came in. She was in the process of cleaning The Room so she could go skating—the rule being The Room must be clean before she is allowed to leave the house. “So your room was never messy?” she asked. She was precariously balancing three cereal bowls, four plates, seven glasses and most of our cutlery. I’d been looking for a butter knife for the last two days.
“Not only was my room clean, I dusted it.” I said. I put my hand on my hip in a “top that” gesture.
“I didn’t get to eat in my room either,” Layce said, eyeing the dishware.
“I did occasionally serve a cheese and meat platter to my friends, but I always returned the dishware promptly,” I admitted.
Emma rolled her eyes and rummaged around in the fridge.
“What are looking for?” Layce asked.
“I’m checking expiration dates,” Emma said, her head deep in the caverns of the fridge. “Did you know this ranch dressing is going off in three days?”
Layce glared at me.
“I think we may lose the battle sometimes, but I am convinced we will win the war,” I said, beaming.