My fiesty fun friend burst through the front door with cheers and hugs and an armful of flowers. She turned the corner and stopped short: “WHAT happened to your house?? It’s, it’s so clean!”
Less than 48 hours earlier, we’d had friends over – in preparation I had cleaned for two days. Family entropy hadn’t yet reclaimed its usual stake of mess on every available surface.
The last time Friend visited, I’d heard myself apologizing for the mess. It wasn’t all that bad, but it wasn’t good.
The conundrum: I am no domestic goddess, nor do I want to live in a sty. I’m Adult Enough to notice that my interior state often affects my exterior reality – if my life feels chaotic, guaranteed my home does, too. It works the other way as well – if I can get myself to clean the house, I might feel more peaceful.
I have plenty of things I’d rather do than clean, including welcoming you into my home. Which means you are always welcome. If I know you’re coming, I might clean myself into a tizzy. And I might not.
When Teen was just a tot, a woman I knew admitted that she hadn’t had friends over in years, for the simple reason that her lack of housekeeping skills embarrassed her. She didn’t want people to think less of her, so she kept them out.
Which meant she also didn’t let them in. There is something very personal about letting others into our space. They see our style, our art and kid art collected over years, our family vacation knick-knacks, our books which reveal our tastes. People know us differently after seeing how we live.
I guess for some people that feels too vulnerable. But if you can ignore the dust bunnies collecting in corners, you are welcome to C’mon Over to my house. If you can’t deal with dust bunnies, we’re probably not friends.
For Christmas last year, Guy bought me a Roomba. I’d asked for a Roomba more than once as we walked through Costco; I had not asked for a Roomba for Christmas – a spectacularly unsexy gift. But Guy was so happy with his gift I let him set it up and, once charged, I let him Push the Button, at which point we quickly discovered that we needed to Prepare the House for Roomba – picking up cat toys and sweatshirts and kids’ shoes and socks, moving counter stools and pulling chairs back from the table, shutting bedroom chaos behind bedroom doors.
The first time I tried to use the Roomba by myself – husband out, kids asleep, me reading in bed – I decided Roomba just might be Chucky, a Good Guy robot-vacuum possessed of an evil spirit; it kept getting stuck and beeping at me that it was stuck, making me leave my warm cocoon to set it straight each time. Eventually I sent it “home” and decided reading in peace trumped waking to clean floors.
“I find my vacuum to be very heavy and ugly and inconducive to relaxing. There is nothing that leads me into a cursing tirade faster than trying to lug my vacuum up two flights of stairs. And Jesus said: if your vacuum causes you to curse, gouge it out . . . or something like that. So actually becoming a real- life vacuumer wasn’t an option, since I love Jesus. (If you do vacuum, I’m not trying to suggest that you don’t love Jesus. I assume it’s possible to do both. I’m just saying it’s not likely. Not likely at all.)”
Roomba and I have mostly made peace, which is a good thing because I love Jesus and do not anticipate becoming a real-life vacuumer anytime soon. Which also means Roomba doesn’t run as often as it could, because that whole Preparing the House thing may just be Too Much, depending on the amount of time my family has spent recently living in said house.
So if you can deal with dust bunnies, C’mon Over. I’ll even try not to apologize. After all, you’re coming for the company and not to grade my housekeeping, right?