I don’t tolerate messes well. I keep my dozens of spice jars in alphabetical order. I stack my sweaters in a rainbow. I have even made a career out of neatness. As an editor, I spend my time polishing sentences and organizing ideas.
I’ve always worked first, played later. I have trouble concentrating in messy spaces. Greg sees me as borderline compulsive, though the blanket of dust on our blinds begs to differ with him. Greg is the opposite. He’s always been happy to watch a movie while a pile of dirty dishes makes googly eyes at him from the sink, whereas I would first wash the dishes, wipe the counters, sweep the floor, and then fall asleep 10 minutes after I sat down to watch the movie.
Eleanor changed things, of course. I couldn’t have a clean house all of the time unless I wanted to quit every other pursuit, so I settled for cleaning just the family room at the end of the day. That gave me an uncluttered place to read or watch TV.
When Genevieve died, my life became really messy. Sadness and anger oozed into every crevice. I could not fix her death or tuck it into a closet. I barely remember the first six months after. My brain was so cluttered by grief that I don’t think I had a place to store memories. Gradually, I learned to carry the happiness and sadness simultaneously. Now I can laugh to the point of tears with Eleanor while holding Genevieve in another corner of my mind.
I reached a point last spring where I felt good most of the time. I began to hope and dream again. Then the infertility struggle began, and life became messy again. I’m afraid to make commitments because I’m always running to the doctor for another test or procedure. Delayed gratification is my modus operandi. I will be happy after I get pregnant. I will put more effort into my career after I get pregnant. I will plan a vacation after I get pregnant.
A friend sent me this quote a few days ago: “Everything works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.”
I laughed when I read it, though I had seen it before. My interpretation of this quote is that everything works out in the end because you die. If it hasn’t worked out yet, you’re still alive.
Even with my distorted interpretation, that’s an important message. I always think that I’ll reach a point where life will be perfectly organized. I’ll have two healthy kids, a happy marriage, a career that I’m passionate about, and plenty of money in the bank. And a clean house, pretty please. I probably will have all of those things at some point, but all at the same time? Unlikely.
Tomorrow is my birthday. Here’s hoping that this year I will learn to accept life’s messes more gracefully.