Dirty Windows

Wouldn't it be easier to "see" life as it truly is if our windows would just stay clean? Brenda Miller ponders the partly-shaded view—the good and the bad.

The sun is out in Bellingham, Washington, which means that most women I know, including me, are staring at our dirty windows. Not out them, but at them. We’re seeing the streaks, the smudges, the fingerprints, the coating of dust, the firm outlines of water drops left over from the hard rains of winter. We’re looking up the phone number of our window cleaners—that nice couple with the VW bug—or we’re considering the time and effort of getting out our own Windex, our rags, our squeegees, and spending this nice day getting our arms sore spritzing, and wiping, and squeaking, and spritzing again.

Or we shift our gaze and see the inches of cat and dog hair in the corners of our wood floors, the fur spread like a second mat on the living room rug. We’re seeing the cobwebs dangling from the corners of the ceilings, forming filaments of dirty lace across the tops of our cabinets. We’re seeing the age spots on our hands, our unpedicured toes, the hair on our legs coarse and dark after a winter of long pants, leggings, and tights. We’re seeing all the things that are normally covered up, or blissfully ignored, for…