Matriarchal test driving

So, I test drove a vacuum cleaner on Wednesday.
An odd test, yes. Especially when the lass asking if I would like to partake in the said test is all of 19. With her perfect long bleached hair and manicured false nails, I wondered if she’d ever owned a vacuum cleaner in her life.
Let alone used one.
My mum gave me a Miele vacuum when I bought my first house 14 years ago. It was streamlined yellow and an aerodynamic leap from the Electrolux I’d found in hard rubbish. And consequentially dragged over shoddy rental floors.
I would have loved to ask Freud what he thought about the house warming gifts given to me by my family matriarchs.
My mum – the Miele.
My mother-in-law – The Nursing Mother’s Association Cookbook.
Both items still with me over 4 houses, 3 babies and 2 significant birthday parties. A status symbol of stepping up into adulthood. I suppose my mum wanted me to be clean. And my mother-in-law wanted me to eat more casseroles. Both gifts and Freudian inspired messages embraced with gusto. I had damn clean floors and learnt how to make a pie.
From scratch.
But in April, the Miele died. In silence, it simply stopped working. I borrowed a friend’s vacuum. Another fancy imported brand. It had no bag and went by the name of Dyson. It sucked my stuff off my floor – including half of my kitchen laminate. But it too died, just with a little more drama. In a smell of burnt hair and dead skin, it coughed itself to stillness. Leaving me with the lifeless bodies of 2 vacuum cleaners.
And up for a shit load of money.
Which led me to the Good Guys last Wednesday. Where you apparently pay less if you pay cash. And the 19 year old she-child. Who asked me in all seriousness if I would like to test drive a vacuum cleaner.
My face – dead pan.
It was like a bad science fiction flick. Where the people around you morph into alien-esque creatures and talk to you in a language you can’t understand. While the world implodes around you and your peripheral vision goes all fuzzy. There’s a bad soundtrack. It’s played in D.
I grabbed the hand of my middle red. She seemed the only thing real to me. As the questions echoed through my head. Through my heart. Through my soul.
Test drive a vacuum cleaner?
How did I get here?
Think standing balance, inversions and yin forward folds.
I stood on the shop floor of the good guys reflecting on what my vacuum had pulled up from beneath my feet. From the spliffs of 20’s to the incense of my 40’s. From the city dirt of 2 to the sandy feet of 5. The crumbs of so many recipes from my nursing mother’s association cookbook – first made by me and now by my eldest wise one. The puppy chewed bits of antique furniture to the incontinence of my now elderly 4 legged friends.
Nearly 15 years of my stuff sucked up of the floor. Nearly 15 years of my presence sucked up of the ground. Nearly 15 years of my life here on this earth.
Making me see what the 19 year old with the cool nails could see. That is, a middle aged woman. With tired lines across her eyes and a softness in her belly. Holding memories of her babes while holding the hand of her wide eyed child. Both very real and with quiet smiles in their hearts.
So I said yes. I accepted the offer of the test drive. I accepted that I’m where I am today because of where I was yesterday. And last week. And last month. And last year. And that even though obscene as it sounded, I wanted to test drive a vacuum. I wanted to see which one I liked best. I wanted to embrace how ridiculous middle age could become.
My years have folded into a new chapter. It’s filled with being a taxi-mum, collecting shop-a-dockets and drinking champagne at your 25 year high school reunion.
It’s about becoming the family matriarch. Where I buy my own vacuum cleaner. Where I make up new rules. Where I mix up all the recipes I like and keep a damn clean floor.
At least I can again now.
With my kick-arse new vacuum.
Which fits me and my middle aged world just right.

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