Tuesday, January 17, 2006

To sweep the room with a glance

So, I've been thinking about my apartment. I was thinking about it as I was preparing it for a vistor. I folded the mound of blankets on the couch that all three of us just exchange time sliding under without really disturbing the unique peaks and valleys formed in the last couple of weeks. I put away the laundry that was sitting in two baskets on the floor of my room and finally put away the rest of the Christmas presents that were sitting in a shopping bag on the floor. I folded all of the various clothing draped on the few pieces of furniture in my room and put them in their respective drawers. I swept up the gross bits that I discovered on the floor that were combined with the plaster dust still there from when I screwed lots of shit from IKEA into the walls when I first moved in. While I was at it, I swept the gross bits that were sweepable from the bathroom floor. I took out the full garbage. Actually, I just moved it to the back porch since it was already dark out. I did the few dishes that were in the sink. I finally threw out the pile of newspapers that have been sitting on the living room table for almost as long as I've lived here. But, then I was done. I did not wipe down the bathroom. I did not organize the clutter on my desk and dresser. Once I threw out the useless paper on the table, I simply made neat piles of everything that was left instead of finding homes for them. I did not find a place for the towel and iron in the living room, nor did the boxes lining the wall find niches to be hidden in. I put a lot of miscellaneous junk behind my bedroom door. I didn't make the bed.

And I'm really comfortable with that.

This is different from the island where I never entertained guests other than Jeff and especially from my suburban life when I entertained a lot. My suburban apartments and my house were certainly not pristine, but things had places and I made sure that the house was presentable (beds made, bathroom sanitized, clutter put away) whenever people were coming over. I feel like my hands always smelled like bleach when there were people other than myself and my husband in the house. Along with this need for presentability, I had a persistent sense of guilt that the house wasn't cleaner or that it wasn't clean and picked up more often. The guilt wasn't strong enough that I actually did anything about it, but it was there. The best thing I did in those situations was to just go ahead and spend the money on a cleaning lady. I would justify it by denying myself something else that I wanted and had been planning on spending a similar amount of money, so I think the act adequately blended the legacy that I've inherited from both of my parents individually. Comfort and Calvinism. Perfect.

The other difference between my suburban homes and this apartment is that there was much more stuff in those apartments and so much of that stuff matched. I mean, seriously. Actually, some of the matchng stuff has survived in my yellow, red, blueberry and sky blue fairy bedroom. But all the blue stuff? Gone. I'm not paiting myself out to be crazy-suburban-decorator-lady. I mean, nothing in the house was sage or seafoam green. However, I had a certain whimsical flair for decorating. I liked it. And I don't think it's bad that I had picture frames that matched the coffee table. That's who I was then and I can see being that person again.

But right now, I've lost the urge to shop and since I've given away so much of what I had, this apartment has a much more bohemian, sparse flair. There are walls bare of decoration and floors without cute little area rugs that match the couch and quilt. But this is a domestic stage that I missed when I got married right out of college and got to decorate with two salaries at my disposal. I never had bookshelves made of bricks and boards. I guess that I still don't (mostly because my brother and my mom have expensive tastes, too, and contribute to some overall luxury) but it's closer to that stage than I've ever been and it's good to go back and play here for a little while. Maybe a long while.

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