Plunging my hands, wrist deep, in the greasy pan I left socking for hours. Grease floating on top, a tornado of dirty smog. I press the rough side of the sponge hard against the bottom, scrub the stubborn grime stuck to the sides, in a circular motion my gloved palms move. Something excruciating about the mundane, something lulling about the familiar.
Who taught me this skill? I imagine the myriad women that came before me, centuries of the same repeated, mind-numbing motion. Aching muscles, dry skin, prematurely aging hands, despite ointments and rubbers.
There is a diplomacy, an intelligence, to knowing how; erasing water spots swiftly from bathroom mirrors. Removing cat hair from sofas without damaging the fabric. Knife cuts and oven burns, ugly and permanent, backpain from kneeling on ironing boards, and bathtubs, proof of qualification.
And another rigid, fascist world outside, reeking misogyny and unfairness, I learned to maneuver. Mountains of ancient filth laborious and obstinate. Stings unlike tinfoil cuts, bruises unlike stretch marks. Ferocious eyes, perverted hearts, unobtainable standards. A world where I was told to learn compromise, and sacrifice, and be submissive. A world where I was told to learn to be afraid, and apologetic, and feign weakness. A world where every day I insist on unlearning.