Saturday, May 28, 2005

Keeping House

You know, for a long time I thought I was lazy. Tossing clothes on the floor. Leaving dishes in the sink until I ran out of clean ones. Cat hair everywhere.
But, I finally think I figured out that it's not me.
It's my house.

For the first time in about...six years?...I live someplace where people might actually come visit. It's a nice feeling.
And, with hosting comes great responsibilities. Namely cleanliness.

OK, most of my friends wouldn't really think twice if my counters were dusty and sprayed with coffee stains but seriously, is this the sort of home I want to present to people?
Not so much really.

When I was a child I was disorganized and slovenly. At least that's what I heard from my parents. They probably didn't use the word slovenly but if they thought I knew what it meant they probably would have.
My room was a Grade A disaster area. I was constantly rearranging it, stacking books and comics where ever I could find space and had dolls EVERYWHERE. I think there's actually a history of me drawing on the walls as well but let's not talk about that.

High School? No different really. Except now it was less dolls and more clothes and videos strewn about willy-nilly. There was very little my mother could do to get me to keep the place clean. I think we finally settled on just keeping the door closed after a while.
I am convinced that my mother thought I would always be that messy. This theory was proved on her last visit when she expressed surprise at how clean the house was AND didn't feel the need to reclean anything during her stay. (Once I caught her scrubbing the stove at 6am when she was visiting one of my earlier apartments.)

In college, well nothing got clean in college. Even a parental visit meant little was done except to clear out the pyramid of empties accumulating in my dorm room. Not an easy feat in itself but how much of an actual visit to college takes place in the dorm room? Very little. They pick you up there, comment on your decor. Meet the roommate (if you have one) and then drop you off with a load of "groceries" after you're done. I use the term groceries loosely because we all know what dorm groceries are - ramen, cereal, cup-a-soups and probably some cold cuts or frozen pizzas if you were hiding a microwave.
When I moved off campus it was into a house with five other people. Yeah, probably don't do that to yourself. I mean, it was fun, but hectic.
My favorite cleaning story from that house was when the "Dish Fairy" visited and left dirty plates under my friend Dave's pillow. Cruel but I believe it was justified at the time. Who really remembers anymore?
That house never really seemed clean, even if the six of us spent a day cleaning it. It was an old building with lots of nooks and cranies and ghosties. I think that was where I started keeping a cleaner room just because it was my only sanctuary from whatever drama was going on. And, believe me, when you live with five other people, someone is ALWAYS having drama.

After college (and I realize I am skipping over about 2 years here but yadda yadda yadda OK?) I moved to Chicago. Hack, my boyfriend at the time, and I moved into a place that in retrospect was beyond our means and way nicer than anywhere we had ever lived. Wall to wall carpets, a hallway of mirrored closets and central air. We kept that place pretty nice. It was difficult though. Hack, not the cleanest person (but I love you dear) and at the time he was way into found objects as art and selective dumpster diving. Which, you know, sounds fun but sometimes isn't so much.

Once Hack and I broke up I took up with ole whats-his-nuts and we lived in a number of unsavory neighborhoods. Well two but serious on the unsavory end. Uptown and Humbolt Park. Consequently we had very few visitors on any sort of regular basis. Sure the place was always pretty clean. But, for someone who wasn't holding down any kind of regular job, that boy sure did master the art of sitting on his ass. And, as we have discussed, I am not the most motivated person when it comes to cleaning up my own mess - let alone the mess of someone else.

Yadda yadda yadda

I live on my own. With my cat. In a studio. A series of studios, each one larger than the last but still not places where you could invite people over. Unless they wanted to sit ontop of the kitchen counter. Let's see...since 2002 I have lived in 4 different studio apartments. My excuse for not cleaning those all that thoroughly was lack of space. There was never anywhere to put anything, how was I supposed to clean? Clean meant stacking things under stuff, behind curtains, in drawers and cabinets.

Now however. The Boyfriend and I have a pretty nice pad. Sure, there's no jacuzzi bathtub but we do have a dishwasher, a guest bedroom and space in the livingroom for two couches (whenever we get the cash together to finish paying for the new one that is.) People come over. They eat dinner, have beers, play video games and actually spend the night on occasion. Our first real out of town visitor is expected in two weeks (A to the mutha fuckin Z.) This is an apartment I WANT to keep clean.

I don't even mind cleaning it all that much. Because I know underneath the dust and cat hair that accumulates over the week there are nice white counters and wide windowsills for plants (that keep dying) and the rug is brand new.

I have also discovered the beauty of stain removers and those nifty cat hair roller things that work better than a vacuum on the shediness of both my cats and myself (yeah I shed, so what?) There is artwork on the walls and pictures of loved ones hung on the staircase. My cousins are a much better looking group of people when not coated in a fine layer of dust thank you very much.

I have also started buying things just for the sake of having something pretty. Fashionality over functionality for the first time in my life. Not that I can really afford some of this stuff but how can I NOT afford it really. It is making my house a home.

Finally, after ten years of skipping around from place to place, hopping apartments like lilly pads, I have a home. And sure, we are still a little messy. A little disorganized but perfection is over rated.

And we still don't have a vacuum cleaner.

1 comment:

hackimer said...

Ahem - When I lived by myself in that Beeeutiful brand newly renovated studio where i peeled the stickers off the toilet when I moved in, I kept it spotless. I just had to say in my defense. And I've since MOSTLY grown out of the dumpster diving habit. In fact it's been a good two years since I've brought home anything that was in the trash, although that last thing was one KICK ASS lamp that took up half the living room and still lives with my former roommate Amy. so plbtbtbtb.