The first thing I remember is the sound. I and my brother, we were 6 and 7, respectively. We were sitting on one side of the living room, right next to the door to the play room. Dad was on the other side, a few toys scattered about his feet. I don't remember if he stepped on any of them, or if he'd immediately noticed them upon entrance. He was upset, that was clear. He said a lot that I don't remember, many things that may as well have been gibberish to us. He definitely said the one phrase he'd said a hundred times: "When something falls, Pick. It. Up," each consonant being as stressed as possible.

This time, however, he picked up one of the toys by his feet. A yellow dump truck. Big, bulky, wooden thing, heavy for us. And then, trying to emphasize his point, he tossed the toy towards us. It landed on the floor right in the middle of us. He obviously hadn't tried to hit us, but it scared the two of us all the same. The clatter was loud. It felt like it shook the house. One of the axles of the truck popped off, bouncing away.

I don't remember if Dad apologized for that, or anything. I actually don't remember anything at all. It ends right after the sound.

The phrase is a phrase I've heard a million times before. A lot of little things might bring it up. A remote might be misplaced. The shoes by the door would be too in-the-way. Potted plants would be sitting in the kitchen sink. The laundry room in the basement might be simply impossible to use, with boxes and old VCRs piled in the way, or on top of the washer. All of these might have been frustrating enough for Mom to tell whatever children were nearby "Don't ever grow up to be like your father." She wouldn't shout it; rather, her voice would be strained, as her eyes rolled away from us. The phrase stuck with me, personally. I'd think of it upon hearing the sounds of Dad moving things around downstairs at night, or when he'd turn the house upside down when he was home alone.

There was the tiniest of bookshelves in the playroom. We originally used it for storing children's books. As the years went on it stored young adult books, then basically any book, then eventually just anything period, eventually becoming completely unrecognizable, whatever. Back then it was pretty full. I wanted to organize the books into alphabetical order, but the process of removing a book and finding a place for it felt pretty slow. It was my older sister who passed by the doorway and advised "Take all the books off, then put them back."

I didn't understand this at the time. It felt counter-productive, to make a bigger mess in the process of fixing a smaller mess. But I did try to follow her advice. And of course in hindsight I see the reasoning. None of this changes the fact that I was too lazy to put the books back on the shelf.

The next time I cleaned something of my own fruition was a few years later, in I believe the fifth grade. I was with my brother in our room. We'd never actually "cleaned" it before, preferring to occasionally shove the clothes on the floor to the side and make a usable path. But this time we had a little more dedication. We were focusing on one area of floor, one specific pile of clothes. And for an hour or so we removed on article of clothing at a time, either tossing it or donating it. And, eventually, we finally saw the carpet beneath it. We were kinda proud.

Creaking stairs, and a knock at the door. Dad leaned into the door. And there he asked us "Hey, uh, you guys got room for these suitcases? You might need them someday."

The both of us already had suitcases. But we said yes. So there he placed three large black roller suitcases on the spot we had just cleaned. My brother and I stared at them for a while. I don't know if he knew we had been cleaning, or if it had just been a coincidence.

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