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Perfectly clean carpet smiled brightly up at us. I hated to step on it with or without shoes. The large sweeping lines across the carpet are starting to disappear. Footprints show our traffic patterns throughout the house. It was inevitable. We live here. Oh but how nice was it to come home to a clean house?

Fresh smells and clean lines. The only things out of place were items we had moved into bathrooms and closets in order to get as much off the carpet as possible. It was a shame to have to disturb the solitude by bringing in luggage and groceries.

Our neighbors were surprised we would give our carpet cleaner a house key and let him go nuts in our house. He’s a very trustworthy guy. We have known his parents longer than we have known him. I work with his wife in Primary. She’s amazing. Their kids are great. He has cleaned our carpets before and he is awesome. We had no problem at all doing what other friends do – give him a key.

The last time he cleaned our carpets we went out to dinner to give the floors time to dry. They weren’t dry when we came back. We all huddled in the master bedroom watching TV before letting the kids run through the clean hall to their bedrooms for bed. This time we had him clean everything, including the bedrooms.

I spent an entire week cleaning the house and getting things off the floor. It was the only thing that kept me from feeling anxious about the trip. My grandma calls it cleaning closets. If she had to prepare a lesson for church she suddenly realized how unacceptably messy her closets were! I felt like I was cleaning closets instead of getting ready for a long trip. It ended up being the perfect way for me to prepare.

I have tried to clean the house before trips before. Somehow it hasn’t worked. I can’t get it all done and I’m still nervous. This time I was very aware someone would be in my house. I knew he wouldn’t look in the bathrooms and they would be full of desks and other tables. It was to my advantage that I get all weird about people seeing my house. Proper motivation helps one move from doing things to doing things well. Every day I told myself I would take a day off and do nothing. After dropping kids off at school I would putter around the house. The next thing I knew I had perfectly organized more rooms.

By the time we were ready to leave on our trip it felt like we were preparing to move. The house was so empty. Coming home felt like we were moving too. I watched my family walk across the parking lot of the Oakland airport. Three of us were rolling a suitcase behind us. Gavin was struggling to carry a heavy duffle bag we had to buy at Target in order to have enough space to fly home. I had this thought of us carrying all our earthly possessions. Only it wasn’t true. It was just a lot of junk we took and acquired on a weeklong trip to Southern California.

Our pristine home with the grass going to seed greeted us warmly. We took several trips to empty the van. I couldn’t handle seeing piles of stuff littering my once perfect home. After dinner … dinner was wonderful! Homemade food with milk was bliss. After dinner we emptied luggage and put stuff away like a well oiled machine.

Today I started putting furniture back in its place. It’s nice to go back to normal but it feels weird too. The house is filling back up. Laundry feels never ending. There are still odds and ends that need to find a place. Toys are stacked in a corner of my room waiting for kids to finish homework. The house may never be perfect again. But hey the carpets look awesome!