When I was sixteen I bought a Bissel vacuum cleaner for $38 at a Kmart going out of business sale. It sat in a storage unit for almost a year before I used it, but when I finally did, I was thrilled. Last week I used it for the last time and this morning, just before the trash was collected, I watched someone load it into the back of an Expedition. After years of resistance, I bought a new unit.
I have without a doubt spent quadruple the initial purchase price in vacuum cleaner bags and replacement bands to keep it running. As it sputtered to life each time in the end, I prayed the duct tape and screws would keep it assembled as it shook violently with each of the multiple passes I made in an effort to collect dog hair and those tiny pieces of paper that flake off of the spiral notebooks the girls always use.
The head would routine abandon its post and slide off of the body, leaving the center of the cleaner free to flee me. I would routinely kill the power in an effort to corral the cleaner. The hose attachment would work, however its collection would blow out of the opposite side of the unit. I would curse and I would cry and I kept a screwdriver at the ready because the band would dislocate as I vacuumed causing the dang thing to stop working all together.
I couldn’t be swayed, however, to part with it. The vacuum was some sort of talisman to me – a symbol of my independence and industrious nature and I wanted to keep it for as long as possible. The beauty of it is that I did.
This is the picture of the new unit. I highly doubt that I will ever look that happy while vacuuming (let alone while vacuuming dirt up from a potted plant while my kid continues to color with crayons right on the floor next to the mess). But who knows, maybe if I am cleaning without being hit in the head multiple times or chasing down the vacuum, I just might.