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She put an ad in the paper advertising house cleaning, and a couple, both professors, answered.They became her first client, and their house became the bedrock of our sustenance.
I took these remnants as a celebrity-endorsed path to prosperity.
I began to check out books from the school library and started reading the news religiously. It was there I, as a glasses-wearing computer nerd, read about a mythical place called Silicon Valley in Bloomberg Businessweek magazines.
I grew up in a bed and breakfast, in the sticky thickness of the hospitality industry. I was late to my own fifth birthday party in the park because a guest arrived five hours late without apology.
Following a weeklong stay in which someone specially requested her room be cleaned twice a day, not once did she leave a tip for housekeeping.
It’s her blue Hoover vacuums that hold up the framework of my life.
Someday, I hope my diploma can hold up the framework of hers.The squeal of her vacuum reminds me why I have the opportunity to drive my squealing car to school.I am where I am today because my mom put an enormous amount of labor into the formula of the American Dream.At 9, I remember how I used to lounge on the couch and watch Disney cartoons on the sideways refrigerator of a TV implanted in a small cave in the wall.At 12, I remember family photographs of the Spanish countryside hanging in every room. The carpet I vacuumed I only saw once a week, and the pastel shirts I folded I never wore. My mother was only the cleaning lady, and I helped.At 14, I remember vacuuming each foot of carpet in the massive house and folding pastel shirts fresh out of the dryer. I loved the way the windows soaked the house with light, a sort of bleach against any gloom. My mother and father had come as refugees almost twenty years ago from the country of Moldova.I loved how I could always find a book or magazine on any flat surface. My mother worked numerous odd jobs, but once I was born she decided she needed to do something different.I grew up in the swaddled cacophony of morning chatter between tourists, professors, and videographers.I grew up conditioned in excessive politeness, fitted for making small talk with strangers.I memorized the geometry of place mats slid on metal trays, coffee cups turned downward, dirtied cloth napkins disposed on dining tables.I knew never to wear pajamas outside in the public courtyard, and years of shushing from my mother informed me not to speak loudly in front of a guest room window.