As anyone who has ever lived with me before will tell you I am not a clean person. I will leave laundry on my bed until it gets worn, there is enough paper lying around my room to make your own journal, and if I don’t leave conscious and continuous reminders I am unlikely to sweep let alone mop until I come home and realize just how bad everything has gotten (again) and go on a wild dance party cleaning spree. Since university I’ve learned to keep it short of a toxic waste dump by staying on top of dishes or at least keeping them out of non-eating places and I keep a pretty good handle on laundry being cleaned if not actually folded and put away. So in this way and in many more figurative ways I can be a pretty messy person.
I have lived in the city for just shy of four months. In these four months I have made one new friend. I have been to her house on several occasions to watch hockey, cook together, borrow books, watch movies, and other things that friends generally get together to do. She has not been to my place and I have always given the completely valid excuse of “it’s a dump”. About once every two weeks I go on a previously mentioned cleaning spree but by the time I want to show people “look! I have done the thing!” it has inevitably fallen into entropy again. C’est la vie.
I have reconnected with a couple friends since moving to the city. One of them has been to my apartment a few times to pick me up and hasn’t been eaten by any Star Wars related garbage monsters. Yet. Recently we have committed a day of the week to getting together to catch up, make food, and watch movies. She is an excellent hostess but I always felt guilty for not having her over to my place. This last week we met at my place and for the first time she was there for longer than ten minutes. I had planned to clean after church but ended up not getting home until an hour before they would arrive. After a much needed shower I had about fifteen minutes to get the house in order. Needless to say it was not the most thorough job and I apologized as I walked them to my door.
And you know what? We had a great time. Yeah, the apartment wasn’t very organized and I had to get a little creative with dishes to make supper with. But we worked on colouring pages they had brought and watched Two Towers while eating nachos. It was a great visit. No one died in the Messy Apartment Sinkhole of 2016 and on my next day off I had sufficient time to make my house a home again and all is well.
It is only fair that I warn you that I am overly fond of making allegories and Life Lesson connections out of everything. I’m also really bad for getting into a rough spot in life and suddenly thinking of ten friends I want to reconnect with but not wanting to be asked “and how are you these days?” I genuinely want to know how things are with them without making it about me or divulging that things are less than great. I never stop to think “hey, maybe it isn’t all peaches and cream with them either.” I think there is a fine line to walk between only talking with someone when you need to unburden yourself and genuinely wanting to reconnect with someone who comes to mind when you’re at your lowest. For me, I try to make a list of people that when I get out of this slump I will reach out to.
To be honest though I’m still not sure if this is the best plan either. Maybe, like with a messy apartment, sometimes you need to welcome people into the mess before you are able to clean. I spent this summer working at a home ready meals and pizza counter in my hometown’s grocery store. The part I hated the most about the whole ordeal was running into old classmates and having to admit that I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I quickly came to learn that they were still trying to figure things out too. People I hadn’t talked to in five years were suddenly stopping by to chat and letting me into their fears and questions as well. On good days when I let myself reach out to friends I had made at university I found out that they were still confused as well. It didn’t matter if they had found their dream job, were in grad school, getting married, or just as lost as I was everyone had things they were still trying to figure out. Everyone gets tired. Everyone doubts themselves. Everyone has some good in their life they wanted to talk about as well (most days).
One of the things I’m trying to do in 2016 (and tried in 2015 and probably tried in 2014 as well) is to be better at intentional community and keeping in touch with people. This way it is like reading the book of my friends’ lives and not just the spark notes/greatest hits. It allows me to be there for them when things are going great, when they’re going poorly, and when they don’t really appear to be going anywhere. Like I said, I’m working on it. It also allows me to show them my life as I try to figure things out, experience highs and lows and all the plateaus in between.
What I think I’m trying to say and honestly might have said by now is to let people into the mess. If they let you into their mess as well see what an honour that is. Celebrate, cry, and let yourself have gray days together. And don’t forget that dancing is a great way to get yourself through many a cleaning day.