Kitchen things, home things, domestic things have consumed me a lot lately. I think back to a time in life where I loved it, but also felt like indulging it was somehow robbing me of time I could invest elsewhere. And I think about how that was the right stance for that time in my life. It’s how I stretched myself to the limits I could, exploring a career in freelance feature writing. I went at it like it was a full-time job and it was immensely satisfying. I can’t imagine that would have been possible if I were busy with changing sheets, keeping tabs on stocking up the fridge and cooking every meal.
But this is a different phase and time in my life. And it’s a different time in the world. Things have slowed down so much, within and around me, that I have the luxury to choose alternate ideas for productivity and ambition. At the moment my daily productivity only goes as far as doing two solid tasks in a day. Whether I take all day to do them, or finish them in a couple of hours, it’s all I find I am able to do. And I use the rest of what ever is left of the day to do as I please. Which in the last five months has become finding a steady rhythm in the tedium of keeping a home.
All the mundane things I curled my nose at in the before life, I have now found to be anchors. Like doing the dishes. Like taking down and washing curtains. Like dusting the fans. Like cleaning out the fridge. Like the endless loop of laundry — doing it, drying it, folding it, putting it away — lather, rinse, repeat.
The weightage between activities of work and activities of the rest of life now hang in equal balance. The repetitive nature of homely rituals, the beats of a domestic life, the monotony of that routine lends a backdrop of comfort and predictability to my life. Work just falls into it, in the gaps, around and in between the domestic stuff. There is an all new value and respect for this aspect of work. I understand so much more keenly why it is called unpaid labour, and probably how much more I ought to pay for it when I decide to re-hire domestic help again.
Prepping and planning for meals. Updating that constant grocery list in my kitchen. Tackling one forgotten corner of the home every week. Washing our face masks. Cleaning out the snack cupboard. All the cooking. Fluffing pillows and folding blankets every day. Bringing out fresh towels. Washing the dustbin every other day. Pruning the plants. Taking the indoor ones out for some sun every week. Sneaking in a special, indulgent meal every now and then. Making that daily 4 pm cup of chai (that I have absofuckinglutely perfected to my taste, thanks to the lockdown) and savouring it all alone in my chair in the living room. Watching the plants change and grow. Finding just bloomed flowers in the morning.
It’s the little things that stack up. And I see that in my changing relationship with domesticity, I now have built a home. A home that holds and supports me. Not just our literal home, but a sense of home and having somewhere to flop, collapse, be held, be supported. The routine and the rhythm of the tasks beat like a steady din of drumbeat that I have given-in to, lending shore to my need to just be, to unravel, to laze, to revel, to rest, to rejoice, to rediscover and to rejuvenate.
I could argue that in these strange times that I often struggle to make sense of, it is being at home, and in being steeped in domesticity that I’ve found an intensely personal quality to my every day life that was a bit diluted before.
Life feels lived-in this way.
Four years ago: Inside-outside