Friday, May 6, 2011
The past two weeks, however, I've relented, asked for help. Hired a man to repaint the deck that was destroyed by winter weather. Hired Nick and his team to help me with my garden. Hired two young women to help me refresh the tops of ceiling blade fans, the bowls of lamps, the racket of blinds, the wood oils of the banister. I'm having a small dinner party. I want things to be right. My best is not always the best.
Perhaps it's because I've been emotional lately—faced with both anticipated and unanticipated losses and goodbyes—that the work of these good souls has so moved me. Perhaps because asking for and getting help is, for me, such a novelty. But yesterday, joined in my office by one of these dear young women, I could barely hold it together. She was dusting the books, rearranging the potted flowers, realigning the glass apples along the sill. She was talking, telling me about her second job, a merchandising job, she said, in which she helped arranged displays in retail stores. "I know that one," she said, pointing to Dangerous Neighbors. "I put it out on bookstore shelves all around here."
She said she thought it was cool that I'd written so many books. I said I thought it was cool that she commandeered dust, oiled down the bannister, had batted down the pincer-handed spider with her own skinny mop.
"I keep a really neat house," I said, "but I don't have your skills."
"It helps," she said, "if you're a little obsessive compulsive."
I don't know if people who help like she helped, who help like Nick always helps, know how valuable they are. I'm putting it out here, though, in this fractured universe. I'm putting out my gratitude.