Ezra Titus

1966 – 2009

VACUUMING WITH CAROLINA

I remember Carolina. She was the most beautiful girl in Hopewell Junction. When I see pictures of myself, I still see the strange, lopsided smile, which I somehow inherited from her. Her luminescent blonde hair and long legs ensured that I would forever be attentive to her every thought and action. By night, we would clean her apartment, a task comparable to painting the Brooklyn Bridge. When we were done with one side, the other was dirty. Throughout the night, we scrubbed and scoured with bleach and Pine Sol, no end in sight.

Sometimes, I’d grab Carolina and attempt wrestle her toward the couch. “What are you doing?” she would ask, astonished. An entire day had gone by since we’d last napalmed the apartment. Flies had, no doubt, laid eggs on every exposed surface, floor to ceiling. In fact, flies often landed near Carolina in order to observe her. “See?” she’d exclaim, “it’s looking right at me.” It was true, they were.

So, by night, Carolina would stand on the stepladder with a toothbrush and a quart of bleach, diligently eliminating the flies’ eggs on the ceiling. I did my best to take care of the rest of the place.

A few months before she was institutionalized forever, we had an argument. I’d grown tired of cleaning, especially vacuuming. It just didn’t turn me on any more. That’s when Carolina taught me how to achieve perfect unity with the vacuum-cleaner. If you smoke enough grass, vacuuming can, in fact, become a very Zen-like experience. “Enough” turned out to be a lot. We probably spent more on huge bags of it than we would have on an industrial cleaning service. But why let them have all the fun? I slowly discovered peace in the howl of her 8.5 megawatt Eureka.

Sometimes, we both swore we could hear a voice saying, “Jesus is love.” But, when we’d turn off the vacuum, it was gone. Carolina was receiving all sorts of messages from God within the scratching of her toothbrush. I wasn’t yet enlightened to the degree that I could hear these, no matter how long she told me to, “just keep listening.” Subsequently, I had to depend on her to tell me what God said. To me, she was like Moses. In fact, somewhere, I have the stone in which she carved his word.

When she called the police and said she had a gun to her head, but that she wanted to show them how she smoked pot before she killed herself, the story of Carolina and I ended abruptly. Still, I had learned from her the most important thing I will ever know.

I vacuum almost every day now. That’s when I think about my problems and come to important decisions regarding my life in general. My vacuum-cleaner doesn’t channel supernatural entities, like Carolina’s did, yet I send her little messages with my mind. And, I’m sure that somehow, as she listens to them through the fluorescent lights in the psychiatric ward she can hear me, saying, Thank you, Carolina.”