cleaning for Passover

Who knew it could take two days to clean a refrigerator?

I am cleaning for Passover. Or rather, I am avoiding cleaning for Passover. Other people have entire Seder meals cooked, and I am staring at frozen hamburger buns and wondering if I should throw them out. In the freezer, I find matza balls my mother brought a year ago, her homemade gefilte fish, labeled and dated with her sweet, distinctive handwriting. Reluctantly, I consign them to the trash, but I keep the little labels with her words on them.

The kids groan when I ask them to try on their new shirts and pants, to carry forbidden foods to the storage area in the basement, they scowl when I run out of their favorite leavened snacks. At night, my neck and my right shoulder ache from scrubbing, my nails ridged and notched from scouring with steel wool. I wake up drenched in sweat, sure that I am working on a sticky mess in the bottom of the freezer that won’t come clean, I dream that the Seder night is upon us and I’m still cleaning the kitchen.

There’s supposed to be something redeeming about the cleaning process; as if you are sorting through the closets of your mind, throwing out the spiritual impurities and detritus, preparing for a rebirth of the soul. I don’t know…I promise I’d feel just as spiritual if someone else had their head in my oven cleaning out the black gunk, or if we just forgot about the whole cleansing thing and celebrated Pesach at some exotic locale with a buffet and a beach.

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