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  • I came downstairs this morning to a silent house. One roommate had already left for work; my husband and other roommate were still sleeping peacefully upstairs. Morning light spilled into the living room through the open windows, casting a warm yellow hue across the coffee table and fireplace, upon which my only female roommate had placed fall decorations: foam pumpkins and silk leaves, fall flowers and straw arrangements. It was all of the home decor store variety, nothing cheap or flimsy or gaudy. There in the light, the living room looked like something out of Good Housekeeping. And it was.

    I looked at the room with longing, marveling at this roommate who seems to be the perfect wife: she cooks and bakes and cleans and mends and crafts, saving time for walks in the evening and waking early each day to read. And she works a full-time job. And she welcomes young women in our home each week to mentor them. And she does none of the above frantically or in a hurry. How? How does she do it? I found myself asking, turning my ankle uncomfortably as I reflected on my own shortcomings as a wife.

    I don't cook, I rarely clean, I've never used a sewing machine and I consider Instagram a craft. I run only when I can find the time or am feeling particularly fat and I can't tell you the last time I woke up early to do anything that wasn't "due." I'm a grad student with a full-time job and a couple part-time gigs, but standing there watching dust particles float through the sunlight, I still felt like a failure. Am I ever going to be able to take care of him the way she could?

    Unable to answer, I put on my coat and retreated from her domestic oasis, immediately filling my mind with anything but images of the living room: meet wedding client for reception items, send timeline to wedding vendors, respond to day-of coordination request, email class group about PowerPoint presentation, start script synopsis for Monday, call friend about buying her car, call realtor about rental on Wessex, write story about the President's Summit, pull photo of last night's event from the M drive....
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