I had a couple of friends over last night, and although they would have been okay with stacks of magazines around and lint on the floor from my new throw blanket, I got my place “guest ready.” I caught up on recycling, and shredding. I dusted, and vacuumed, put tea lights in their places, fluffed my throw pillows, folded my throw and draped it on the back of the couch. I got my living room to look as good as the dining room table did after I set it for dinner.
As always, after enjoying the company of my friends, I also enjoyed the absence of clutter and unfinished projects. This morning it was delightful to sit with my coffee and not look around at what amounts to my list of things to do, what I should take care of this weekend. I thought I should have people over more often, when actually, I wish I would take the time to care a little more—whether or not I have friends coming over.
My friend Tamara, who would say when she knows I’m stressing about preparing for guests, “they’re there to spend time with you, not your baseboards,” is also a woman who is happy to have become, in her adult life, a bit obsessive about cleaning. After years of being lazy, she has become a bit of a neat freak as she wrote about in her blog, and I envy her that. I just can’t get there.
For one, I live alone. It’s only me. Meaning there is no one else around to be bothered by my stack of cookbooks that could so easily be put away on their shelf in my bookcase. While it’s there I don’t mind the stack of junk mail that needs to be shredded—too much, anyway. But I also mean there is no one to help. No one else to stop and pick up some milk while I get started on dinner. No one else to wash the dishes after I try a new recipe. No one else to take out the trash while I clean the toilets. It’s all me.
I know I’ve probably done a fair amount of making people, moms especially, envious. I’m sure there are eyes that have rolled back in their sockets in response to my tails of staying in bed to appreciate my sheets, and plating an antipasto to make it picture perfect. I guess I’m telling you today it’s not always so glamorous. Sometimes it’s hard. It takes time and energy and sometimes seems pointless.
But, as of today, I’m going to try to change my attitude about cleaning. I’m going to try to get to my inner neat freak. Rather than see cleaning as a time consuming chore, I’m going to try to see it as another way to pamper myself. I encourage others to pamper themselves, right? Keeping my place picture perfect is worth the effort, and the enjoyment it brings when I go home and put my feet up on the coffee table and turn on Oprah and I’m not distracted by the things I need to take care of. At that moment all I will need to do is enjoy the moment, and how pretty everything looks in its place.
If my friends are worth a clean living room, so am I.