Monday, September 21, 2015
Being Hermione Granger
A friend excitedly tells me about her new toy.
"I got a power washer. "
I've only seen a woman look that pleased over dark chocolate or hiring someone to clean their house after throwing a party.
"What's so special about a power washer?"
Her eyes are dreamy.
"I honestly don't know. But when I clean my concrete stoop, there is no better feeling."
Over the next few days I think about power washers. Seriously, I do. Why does washing off a deck make someone that happy? What is it about cleaning off mildew that brings this woman bliss? I decide to find out. My husband is understandably perplexed.
"Why do you want a power washer?"
I'm not known for craving power tools. I am known for wanting someone else to use power tools while I go somewhere else more fun. I can see the wheels turning behind his grey eyes. The man is concerned I've dreamed up another project for the few hours allotted for that sort of thing on weekends. He is relieved when I tell him it's a research project for me. Thrilled it isn't necessary for him to participate, he goes to the hardware store to find exactly the right one. Apparently there is always a "right one" when it comes to power tools.
When I open the box I'm not excited. The machine looks complicated and unwieldy. It also seems like I will have to read the instructions. The power washer already has one black mark against it. I hate reading instructions. My husband hates that it's unlikely I'll ever read the instructions. Looking at my face he sighs while picking up the box to put it together. Only a few swear words later it's ready for action. Suddenly Power Tool Frenzy comes over my husband, causing him to swipe the wand out of my hands. Power Tool Frenzy is a wife-known phenomenon. If a man sees a machine hum with fast moving parts, he can be overcome with a need to tear something apart. Wives also know that it's never a good idea to interrupt the inflicted mid-crazy. My shoulders slump realizing my research will have to wait until something else catches his eye. Several eon long minutes later he looks up feverishly to catch my disgruntled stance.
"Oh yeah. Um here you go."
I snatch the wand lest he forget there are a million other things he could be doing. He looks back over his shoulder wistfully as he moves onto another project.
"Let me know if you need any help."
A little unnerved that I'm in charge of something requiring safety goggles, I double check that they are in place. Pressing the lever, the machine jets out water and I learn why my friend is so happy with her toy.
Moving the wand, I zap grime from the deck, Adirondack chairs and concrete stoop. With each swipe I feel more empowered, wondering if this is what it would feel like to be a witch like Hermione Granger. There are very few things in life that change with a simple wave of a wand. I imagine using it on my old lady dark spots or the floor in my kitchen. These dreams make me cackle with glee. Over the next several hours I become the arch enemy of mildew on siding and anywhere else the dark crud has encroached upon. I feel as though I'm taking down every scumbag who has ever walked the planet, like a superhero bad ass. When the sun begins to set I pry my cramped fingers from the wand to survey the landscape. There is a delineated line of before and after.
Sitting down on a like-new chair, I think about the vast amount of things I cannot change instantly, like worldwide hunger, poverty, wars and the insanity of our political system. These problems, as well as the personal ones I'm trudging through aren't prone to heal with a quick abracadabra. Which is sadly unfortunate but also understandable, because I've come to learn that it will take a great tsunami of change to bring hope and possibility back into fashion. A tear escapes as I accept that important trans-formative change takes great intention and exhaustive work. Until then I have my power washer.
Using this amazing machine settles down my angst about how long it takes to create change in me, in the lives of the people I love and the people I have never met. With my magic wand I can zap away decades of grime in a blink of an eye. The other things I care deeply about will take more time.