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Illustration by Erick M. Ramos

I arrange and rearrange. I play Tetris as I stack. I wrestle in all the odd-shaped things. I cover every bit of surface area. I dig out all the stuff that falls through the cracks and then, when every spot is filled, I pop in that square of soapy magic, press the button and wait for the whoosh. It sparks joy. It is my dishwasher.

I love it. I love everything about it. I even love the things I don’t love about it, including the cutlery tray. I feel as though this part was designed to fit something resembling straws, not actual forks and knives. I often wonder why there aren’t larger spots for larger knives. Mysteries abound. Yet, I love it anyway, flaws and all. Love is patient. Love is kind.

It does not boast. It is not proud. My dishwasher asks for little: Just a splash of that mysterious blue liquid that makes dishes shine, a smidge of privacy until that heat-drying button turns from red to blue. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It happily handles anything I drop in there. Popcorn bowl? Sure. Saucepan? Bring it on. Every single measuring cup I own after a bout of baking? You bet.

It keeps no records of my wrongs. You had ice cream for dinner? Super. How many scoops? The tomato sauce is now dried up on that plate? No problem. Every wine glass you own? Hope you had a good time.

My dishwasher is there for me. I’m not struggling to scrub a pot or soak a dish for days on end, trying to shoehorn it into my condo kitchen sink, which seems designed to hold nothing at all. And yet, it clogs really easily.

Nope. The dishwasher is an honest broker. You put dirty things in. Clean things come out. Love always perseveres. Sure, it can be a bit much as plates and glasses and cutlery clink against what seems an unnecessary tidal surge within. But love is not easily angered.

I run the same cycle every time. I press that button and I smile a little smile, I bring my hands together in silent applause, I let out a satisfied sigh. It’s a late-night ritual. I then pour myself into bed, the water’s swishing is a soothing tide, knowing that when I wake, every kitchen implement will be shiny and clean. The best part? I didn’t have to do the doing.

Is this weird? Maybe. Is my life so bereft, I find meaning in my dishwasher? I’d like to think my life is richer for it. I’m a doer. Even when I delegate, I’m a doer. Yet, I happily relinquish the doing to the dishwasher and that’s a good thing.

I didn’t grow up with a dishwasher. It’s not even that my family couldn’t afford one. We could. It just wasn’t a thing. All the dishes were washed by hand. Every day. My parents were immigrants. They did not do “frills.” And neither did any other of the families we knew. The food was made from scratch. The tablecloths were hand-embroidered. The wine came from barrels and demijohns in the cellar you had to crouch to walk through. It didn’t matter if there were two of us for a meal or 30 at the giant parties we used to have, the dishes were washed by hand. It was something to see. A perfectly choreographed dance, whether it was one person washing or 10 people in the kitchen.

When I left home and lived on my own in one rental after another, I washed the dishes by hand, too. I could have bought a dishwasher. I could have had one installed in most of those rentals. But I never did.

For whatever reason, a dishwasher seemed like such a luxury then. Would it be nice? Yes. Did I really need it? Well, no. I’d been washing the dishes myself for years. It was at times, really satisfying. Doing the dishes, as insignificant as it might seem, felt like a bit of an accomplishment. It was something I could say I had ticked off the list that day. It wasn’t complicated. There were no politics. Careers and reputations did not hang in the balance. I didn’t have to think about it. It was a problem that could be solved.

Then, I bought my first house. Along with the basement crack, roof leak and mice came a dishwasher. Back then, I barely had enough kitchen stuff to feed the monster. When I’d gone through all my bowls, I used to eat cereal out of coffee mugs so that it would be full when it ran. Waste not. Want not.

Eventually, I sold that house. I didn’t miss the wood-burning fireplace or the deck. I missed the dishwasher. When you like cooking and baking and holding dinner parties, doing the dishes can feel like the millionth thing you have to do.

I know machines were made to do work for us – to free us from chores and drudgery. I know they are nothing more than pieces of metal engineered for a purpose. I know my dishwasher doesn’t give one whit about me. I know it could break at any time and leave me in a very large puddle of suds and tears.

But I love it anyway. Love never fails.

Beatrice Politi lives in Toronto.

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