The Clean Room

watercolor bouquet (c) 1983 Maria Strauch

The aftermath of my catastrophic hard drive failure made me familiar with a new term: the “clean room.”  It seems that following initial diagnosis with a severe problem, the customary technological array of problem-solving and data extraction is attempted.  If that fails, then a drive may be sent away . . . to the Clean Room.

For all I know this is actually a cluttered, dark closet in some backroom.  But I imagine it as an ICU bubble for computers: a pristine white, sanitized, hospital-like place where no trace of dust can settle on a computer’s delicate innards once they are exposed.

It is said that no one should see political deals or sausage being made; I feel that my computer’s inner mechanisms should remain unseen by human eyes.

Coincidentally, I have been striving mightily to make clean rooms of a different kind.  Evidently there exists a real estate term for this work as well: “neutralizing.”  Treasured photographs of my beloved husband; photographs he took of our children; a son’s Eagle Scout certificate; another son’s diploma; everyone’s musical instruments . . .  all of this gets put away so a house can be displayed for sale to strangers who in theory then more easily can picture themselves in that house, supplanting its current, suddenly anonymous and faceless family.

In that house I still see my husband in his computer chair and everywhere else he is not; whoever comes next to inhabit his house never will.  They will not even be able to picture him, thanks to these clean rooms.

I have, to put it mildly, mixed feelings about this.

I will not remove my husband’s picture from where it rests against the reading lamp, and I will not move from beside his desk the fly ball he caught for me atop the Green Monster.

I can game this system to some degree with the presence of many things with a personal history evident now only to me.  One of them is pictured above: it is the framed unfolded card a family friend painted and sent to my husband and me when we decided to marry.   I cannot imagine anyone swooping through a house viewing would think to examine it or try to decipher its delicate script of good wishes to us in a marriage that endures for me now.  But just as Rev Bob told our children that they received a gift in seeing their parents live out their wedding vows; undeniably the wishes entwined around that watercolor bouquet–for a marriage with love and joy–came true.



(c) 2012 Stephanie M. Glennon

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