What could be more sacred than a floor of dirty clothes? Donned, worn, and discarded because we lived another day. Stained with the sauce of shared pizzas and diet coke; the sweat of our workouts and speeches and passions; the blood of our toiling; the oil of our Big Macs. All are absorbed into the fabrics like spaghetti sauce into the competing paper towel brand in those annoying commercials, or like the lyrics of “It’s Raining Men” into the brain of a six-year-old you let listen to it because you didn’t realize what it was about.
Sure, you may bleach your clothes white but you can never unstretch them. And you can’t put loose strands back in after you’ve pulled them out. The sweater you got in high school from an aunt who didn’t really know you and assumed you liked sweaters, which you didn’t but just wore anyway until it grew on you, and then you grew on it, until it was held together only by the webs of spiders who made their home for generations in that thing? Yeah, it’s gorgeous… Metaphorically speaking, of course— it’s actually technically hideous and you should stop wearing it to church. But it’s precious because while that sweater fell apart, you got married. And you got a dog. And you had a kid. And your wife left you for Hank Hanklesmop and he took her name, which is your name, but you don’t really blame them. And your house burned down and Better Off Ted got cancelled. But you got that promotion you wanted and Lisa Hanklesmop, Hank Hanklesmop’s ex-wife, proposed to you and you took her name to complete an oddly poetic cycle. That sweater was your witness, and without it, you would have been shirtless and never would have gotten that promotion.
My best friend has a blanket on her bed that she was wrapped in as a baby, and the fact that it’s faded is precisely why it’s important. It represents infant spit-up, drool over the newly released Nintendo Gamecube, and the future joyful tears after being proposed to. It’s dirty, in a way. It’s old. But it’s beautiful exactly because it lived long enough to acquire stains.
So all of your dirty clothes— leave them where they are on the floor. To clean them is to erase them from existence. But they existed, I insist it. So resist it no longer. You’re stronger having been chewed by moths and bled on like soiled socks.
And if your carpet doesn’t smell like bonfire smoke by now, then take my hand and a bottle of lighter fluid. Let’s escape into the foliage to pick up enough dead leaves to feign the years gone by. You should smell, by the end of the day, like your grandpa’s cigarette smoke, or the new car you just stole, or the baby you just stole. You should have mud and grass smeared across your jersey from the time you gave everything and dove across the threshold of the end-zone during your high school’s homecoming game. You should have a ring of red around the shoulder of your favorite graphic tee from that time you got shot saving a friend from an overzealous armed yeti.
We’re human, and we leave our mark by messing things up. The only way we know humans existed before Facebook and Johnny Carson is because they cut down trees and built temples with them, and blew up mountains to make highways.
I’m sick of being told that the only things that matter are the things that matter. So let’s embrace the things that don’t, like dirty clothes. Embrace the idea that they don’t represent laziness or shame. They are the embodiment of having lived another day.
LOL I’m just kidding I’ve just been watching a lot of Netflix and don’t want to clean up after myself.