House and Home, Writing Prompts

Leaving: A writing prompt from The Write Practice

Panther, a toilet-using cat, photographed in S...
If only my cats would use the toilet while I’m gone! | Panther, a toilet-using cat, photographed in San Francisco on 22 August 2005. He is ten years old and has been using the toilet since the age of six months. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I decided to write a brief “Leaving” essay in response to a writing prompt from The Write Practice:

My ex-mother-in-law would leave town for the weekend, stumbling out of her house with an armload of disorganization, oblivious to the pile of stinking, half-washed dishes sitting in cold, slimy dishwater in her kitchen. She would walk away from the overflowing garbage as though she expected cleaning elves to take care of it while she was away.

She used to ask me to water her plants while she was gone, and I always wondered if she expected me to morph into a cleaning elf in her absence. Um, yeah. I didn’t. I just avoided the kitchen, filling a pitcher with water from the bathtub, and watered her flowers as fast as I could so I could escape the stench as quickly as possible.

That’s not me. Whenever I leave town, I like to come home to a clean house. I have a mental checklist that must be checked off before I will leave the house for even one night.

  • Cats’ litter boxes cleaned out (even though they’ll refill them by the time I return): Check.
  • All garbage out of the house: Check.
  • All dishes washed: Check.
  • All laundry washed: Check (I’ll take dirty laundry with me before I’ll leave it lying around to stink up my house.)
  • Bathmat hung up to air out while I’m gone: Check.
  • Toilet scrubbed and flushed one last time before I go: Check.

Leaving isn’t easy when you’ve got a touch of OCD. But it’s worth the trouble when I come home to a mostly clean house (I clean out the litter boxes again first thing when I get back!) While I’m gone, I keep the whole family’s dirty laundry in one big bag so I can dump it straight into the washer and get it going as soon as I arrive. I can have our bags unpacked and everything put away within fifteen minutes of arriving home after a ten-day trip. Then I can plop down on the couch and recover from my vacation in a clean house.

I can’t imagine leaving only to return home to a disaster. How depressing that must be.

Write your own “Leaving” essay and post it on your blog or in the comments below.

~Amanda L. Webster

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4 thoughts on “Leaving: A writing prompt from The Write Practice”

  1. I’m with you. I like coming home to a clean home. I try to leave my house at least presentably clean even when I leave for the day. You never know who might come back with you or who may stop over. And even for my own peace of mind, I want to come back to calm.

    I have cleaned up houses when I’m pet sitting. Especially anything smelly. I think its my way of leaving my mark.

    I can’t write an essay on leaving. I never leave. I live in an old resort cabin on the lake. People come here. I never feel the need to leave.

    1. Odors are the biggest issue for me. I seem to be able to smell things that other people don’t notice. If I had a cabin on the lake, I probably wouldn’t ever leave either!

  2. Great essay. I am the same way. It just seems right to me to do those things before leaving for an extended amount of time.

    I’ll load and unload someone’s dishwasher and take out the garbage if I’m pet sitting. Assuming the place isn’t trashed. I’m not scrubbing down someone’s kitchen when I’m already doing them a favor by pet sitting. But those I have helped usually follow your leaving list too.

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