After we cleared off the driveway, we counted our money and celebrated at our favorite Indian restaurant; then we returned to the aftermath created by frantic garage sale preparation. A topsy-turvy frayed-at-the-edges home awaited.
Sated by garlic naan, Saag Paneer, and a Kingfisher beer, as well as having walked those 25,000+ steps up and down the driveway, I pushed aside the piles of clothes on the end of the bed and slept like a woman who could care less if there was room for her husband or her cats. Oscar Madison would have been proud.
Perhaps my head spun around in the middle of the night, because when I woke up… I was a Felix Unger freak. Now was my chance to go for the throat.
Half-opened drawers and closets which had been rifled for garage sale merchandise were reorganized and closed. The unopened cookbooks promising fricassee chicken and double-Dutch apple pies were gone and the gaping kitchen library rearranged. The Joy of Cooking stood almost alone.
Caught up in the process of purging, I went a step further than merely putting the house back in order. I cleaned.
Not soon enough, the windows sparkled, the bed linens were tautly drawn, and the wide-open horizontal space of the walnut dining table gleamed.
My husband was particularly happy when he opened pantry cabinets and could actually see containers matching up to their lids. But when I slipped into drill sergeant mode and pointed out hangers were made for hanging up clothes, he remembered he had to leave on a business trip the next day. In fact, I think he’d packed sometime during my instructions about putting the measuring spoons in the silverware drawer precisely in order from ¼ tsp to T.
Left alone, I basked in the serenity of no knickknacks and everything in its place. Even the dog was afraid to take too many toys out of her basket.
But then I wondered; can a home be too clean? When it’s messy, all I can think about is cleaning it up. When it’s too sterile, I get a little nervous; what is there to do? (I know: Sit. Desk. Write.)
So, who did my husband really marry? I’m not quite Dr. Jekyll/Mrs. Hyde, but I do swing back and forth between total slob and fanatically anal. My sister calls me Monica from Friends, but let’s face it; I am The Odd Couple. Both of them. I love the order, but when one thing goes, it all goes. Gasp—am I a perfectionist? Double gasp—am I just now figuring this out?
Is that why everything has to be aligned for me to write? The mood, the temperature… my horoscope? You know, all the ingredients lined up and fresh so the recipe will turn out?
Actually I do create from the midst of utter chaos, but that’s the dark side of pristine; the middle ground is what threatens to elude me.
My husband is more of an “even-Steven”; he takes most everything in stride. Not the right ingredients? No problem. He can whip up a mouth-watering omelet on the spur of the moment with nothing but an egg, a spice, and whatever leftovers are in the fridge.
When I heard his approaching train whistle a few days later, I was so happy to see him I vowed not to mention the inevitable mess he would produce concocting that omelet. After all, he’s the middle ground. ~JD here.