Memories of Messy Rooms: The Dust Was Once My Skin

As I clean my place, I realize that what I’m sweeping and wiping away used to be a part of me (literally).

The dust particles performed their mid-air ballet in the single ray of sunshine glistening through my skylight. I ran a finger through the thin grey film covering my curios and wondered how long it had been since I’d cleaned house.

Too long—far longer than I cared admit.


I love living in a clean home; I just hate having to be the one to clean it. As a bachelor, I respect dirt’s right to exist, so long as I don’t have to see it. I strongly admonish lady visitors to never peer too deeply into my den of inequity; stay between the sheets, or risk accidentally stumbling upon the colony of tumbleweeds taking residence beneath my bed.

I have no qualms with this.

Tumbleweeds, take heed: I bear you no ill will. Live, marry, and raise little tumble bunnies; simply allow me the illusion of cleanliness by having the courtesy to stay the hell out of sight.

Dust however, mocked me.

Dust refused to remain unseen. The myriad pixie faeries sparkling in my sunbeam were taunting me, forcing me to admit that my house was not as clean as I wanted to believe.

It is impossible to occupy a space and live dust-free. Were your domicile hermetically sealed, dust would still accumulate. When you dust, you are disposing of something that was once a part of you, because average household dust is comprised largely of flakes of dead skin.

Skin is miraculous. This semi-permeable membrane wraps every inch of your body, simultaneously acting as shield and sensor; strong enough to protect your delicate insides from harm, elastic enough to stretch and contract while hugging your every curve, and cognizant enough to convey all manner of tactile information to your nervous system. Skin is the interface between the mind, the body, and the external world.

You were all of those things to me, once.


There was a time not long ago when I was so ensconced by you, you may as well have been a part of me. I breathed through you. Through you I sensed pleasure, pain and countless sensations like never before. You tickled me, gave me goosebumps, made me blush. You modulated my temperature, and protected me from danger. You were tough, yet sensitive, and through you I gained knowledge of the world, both inside and outside myself.

I was that wrapped up in you.

Now, all that’s left is a thin grey film I’d rather ignore, but unlike my tumbleweeds, the unwelcome memories of you lack the decency to remain unseen. Movies we watched; restaurants we dined at; the songs I have to fast forward past, lest they invoke moments we shared—even in your absence, the ghost of you is omnipresent, pervasive, and all that’s left.

As much as I would tell myself I’ve cleansed myself of you, you left a residue on everything you touched.  Like the dust in my home, the remembrance of you is naught but a reminder that I’m due for a good housecleaning.  How long had it been since you were truly a part of me?

Too long—far longer that I cared admit.

© Jackie Summers 2012

—Photo permanently scatterbrained/Flickr

About Jackie Summers

Jackie Summers is an author and entrepreneur. His blog F*cking in Brooklyn chronicles his quest to become a person worthy of love. His company, Jack From Brooklyn, Inc. houses his creative and entrepreneurial enterprises. Follow him on Twitter @jackfrombkln and friend him on Facebook

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