I remember washing dishes with my older brother. We always were a team on dishes. Sometimes I had to wash, sometimes dry. Someone else had to scrape and rinse and stack the dishes in preparation for washing.
Our kitchen was blue. There was a window over the sink and a flourescent light above it. That light was always left on at night. We had a large sink and the counter was too low. As an adult, washing dishes there always gave me a backache.
There were so, so many dishes: six children, two parents, and often guests. My brother frequently (at least that is how I remember it) got out of the dishes because of baseball practice. Man, that pissed me off. (In a twelve year old that's not fair, kind of way.)
But, when he was there, he was funny. We goofed around so much we often got in trouble. The kitchen, during dishes, was the kid's domain. My parents would have retired to the living room, or den, to watch television, or nap, or have a beer. However, if we got too giddy we would get bellowed at from the other room.
I can't remember the dish soap we used, but I remember the Belle Fiore plates,
which were our everyday dishes,
and the Crown Derby,
which was for special occasions.
My Dad always washed the Crown Derby - it was precious. I liked doing dishes with my Dad, usually on Boxing Day, or New Year's, and then afterwards he and I would make turkey sandwiches on my mother's homemade white bread, with lots of mayonnaise and green olives.
I loved how, when the dishes were done, the sinks cleaned (with Comet),
the counters wiped, the cloth rinsed, wrung out and hung to dry, it would all look so tidy.
I still love that - I like doing dishes at home, in campgrounds, at someone else's house. I like the feel of the warm, soapy water, the feeling of accomplishment, the way my hands feel so clean.
I love the camaraderie of doing the dishes with someone - you don't get that loading and unloading a dish-washer. The passing of the plate, the drying, the putting away, the pleasant chatter. After a big, family dinner I like doing the dishes when everyone has gone home and I can reflect on the evening while setting everything, once more, to right.
It is rhythmical and ritualistic right down to the last moment of hanging up the tea towel to dry.
Everything in its place and orderly ready to begin again after the next meal.
Doing the dishes is a ritual that reminds me every day of family, memories, and that part of me that longs to feel safe, and connected.