Mingwei Gu

writings on business, meditation, technology, markets, sci-fi, organizations

30 Sep 2020

No Mildew

The scents of lavender and spring rush past as Lori opens the door to her freshly cleaned apartment.

She discards her suitcase and purse by the door and kicks off her flats in the direction of the shoerack. It’s been a long week on-site at the client’s office, and all she wants is to lie in her bathtub and drink some wine.

All I do is work, she thinks. And the client keeps asking for more. Is it even worth it anymore? Is this who I am now?

Lori lets out a heavy sigh. She takes off her blazer and tosses it on top of her suitcase. She marches to a kitchen cabinet and finds a half finished bottle of Cabernet from Sonoma. She pours herself a healthy glass and gulps down half of it without wincing.

Is it worth it?

Lori takes in her apartment. The Manhattan skyline shines into her living room. The surface of her designer furniture glistens. Her clothing has been put away. Her sink has been cleared. She sweeps her fingertips across her marble countertops. Not a speck of dust.

Beatrice comes once a week. And she has been for the last year. But every time Lori can’t help but notice how clean her apartment is. And to think of all the work she doesn’t have to do herself.

Time to start the bath.

Lori puts down her glass and strides into her bathroom toward the tub. But she can’t help but stop in front of the mirror.

She notices the bags outlining the bottom of her eyes. The wrinkles forming around her eyes. Those weren’t always there.

Her jobs before grad school were tiring, sure. And annoying. But she didn’t have to take her work home. These days she can’t stop thinking about client problems. Even when she’s trying to sleep the work is rattling around in her mind.

Is this who I am now?

Lori steps toward the bathtub and peels back the curtains. She looks at the tub and the tiling around it. No mildew. No grime.

She remembers her twenties before grad school. She scrubbed the bathtub every month. How she hated scrubbing the bathtub. Yet she wanted her tub clean and her roommates sure weren’t going to do it for her.

At least I never have to scrub the tub.

She plugs the tub with the stopper. She turns on the water to just the right temperature and adds in the bubbles.

Lori makes her way back to the kitchen and a chime comes from her purse. She takes her phone out and sees a text message from Regina, her high school friend. They’ve been texting back and forth but haven’t found a time to catch up.

Lori and Regina used to hang out all the time. Staying up and talking all night. But with Lori’s busy work and social schedules, they’ve hardly met up all. And the occasional galas, dinner parties and gallery openings aren’t really Regina’s thing.

We’ll figure out a time to meet up next weekend, thinks Lori.

And so it’s been for the last six months. She puts her phone on the countertop. She pulls the wine glass towards herself and takes another gulp.

Lori eyes the drawing hanging on the kitchen wall. It’s her figure drawing from college. Lori doesn’t have much time for art anymore. Well, except for the gallery showings. And she’s on the board of an arts non-profit. But not much time for creating much herself anymore.

She stares at her drawing wistfully.

Was this all really worth it?

A few minutes go by and she’s gotten ready for her bath. She turns off the running water.

Lori dips her toe slowly into the water. And sinks into the tub. She brings her wine glass up to her lips. The bubbles rise up from the water and touches her eyebrow. She closes her eyes.

She puts her hand and glides it across the smooth tile. No dust. No grime. No mildew.

And a smile appears on her face.

Yes, yes it’s worth it.