Columns | Vienna Review | March 2010

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away," sang the Beatles in 1960s. This morning, almost half a decade later, I had the same feeling when my parents called me at 09:30 to make sure I was expecting them. In an hour? But how? Where? Vienna? Was it Friday already?

A glimpse at the calendar made me realize that Feb. 26 had come sooner than expected. A tinge of anxiety went through my body as I looked around spotting a mess in my tiny apartment. Books and old printouts lying randomly on my desk, shoes scattered in all corners of the living room and my clothes covering a mere 80% of the floor, leaving no free space for me to vacuum.

A lot to do in so little time. It would have been even more overwhelming without my morning coffee, long shower and two cigarettes – first things first. Spending nearly 45 minutes in getting ready, I was left with less than a half hour to bring my apartment into shape.

First thing on the list: clear the area!

Kneeling down on the floor, I had started collecting my clothes and putting them on a huge pile that I later directly threw into the washing machine. I set the program to 30 minutes and pressed the ON button. So far so good! My laundry was on its way.

Second: vacuum and mop the floor!

Usually that would take up to an hour but today I had more like five minutes to do so. An option was to take the vacuum cleaner in one hand and the mop in my other, in an attempt to finish sooner. Unfortunately, this proved to be too hard of a task. I’m such a bad multi-tasker. My mom was going to have to accept a half-clean apartment – mopping, remaining her job.

Third: clean the bathroom!

This one is my least favorite part. It’s not just the floor that I need to take care of. It’s the sink, and the bathtub, and the toilet too. There is no better way to deal with all this except for taking the solution, closing my eyes and pouring out the fluid. And that’s what I did.

Unfortunately, I kept my eyes closed for a while too long. The bottle became lighter and lighter, exhaling a strong flowery fragrance. My toilet has never smelled like spring flowers before. That was when I noticed the label: Window Cleaner! Well, at least it was all going to be shiny now.

I ran out of the bathroom and shut the door behind me as if trying to conceal the results of my inattention. Not that I managed, though. The smell soon swallowed the corridor, and the living room; it was even tangible in parts of the bedroom. Just as I reached out to open a window, I heard heavy footsteps at the front door. Then, the bell rang.

I turned at the instant – one hand on the window pane, the other nervously running through my hair. I hesitated for a moment and then took a timid pace towards the door, feeling as if this was the longest walk in my life. Close enough to be able to hear my mom’s voice outside, I took a deep breath that filled my lungs with the strong fragrance, put the key in the lock and nervously opened the door.

My parents’ smiling faces awaited me on the other side. I couldn’t do anything but smile back. The flowery smell suddenly turned into a subtle perfume that reminded me of home. And no, not because we use the same window cleaner! But because I realized my parents will be there for me no matter how clean my apartment is, or what it smells like. And tell me, what can really top that?!

-Mina Nacheva

Other articles from this issue

  • From Südbahnhof To Hauptbahnhof

    How the old train station is to become the most central, modern and important one in Austria
    On The Town | Thomas Faria
  • Book Review: Global Art

    Silvia von Bennigsen, Irene Gludowacz, and Susanne van Hagen's book about intoxication, engagement, and money-making - can art be a global cultural equalizer?
    TVR Books | Camilo C. Antonio
  • Imperial Dining

    Adriatic cuisine that Marcus Aurelius might have loved
    Services | Gretchen Gatzke
  • Third Wave Feminism

    Legal barriers are down, but often the intangibles are as intractable as ever. Or maybe the real barriers are tangible after all
    Opinion | Dardis McNamee
  • All articles from this issue

    the vienna review March 2010