“I don’t usually let people in here, but I don’t mind if you come in,” she said, as she looked for something in her office. In direct contrast to the rest of her organized home, this room had stacks of paper. Piles of things. It was a holding space for transitionary items.
It was a space that showed me, contrary to all outside appearances, that even she had a messy place.
And I was honored.
It is both humbling and gratifying when people show me truth. Show me messy. Show me the spaces that not everyone gets to see. Because it is so real. Messy is my reality. Everyone has their spaces of chaos, the areas that hurt a little to show. We’re all afraid to be vulnerable, afraid of being judged.
But this friend knew she was safe from the judgements and the sideways glances. Because I first showed her my reality, my messiness.
I picked “simplify” as my word for 2017. Motivated by whitewashed walls, clean lines, capsule wardrobes, I vowed to be the same. I can paint. I can clean and polish and scrub and cull.
Except, I can’t. Not really.
I love knick-knacks. The daughter of a glassblower, I love small things of beauty and artwork. I anthropomorphize inanimate objects, and project meaning and value onto rocks and sticks and other things. I have jars of seashells and drift wood from beach trips. I have coins and statues from foreign countries. I have paintings and drawings from my talented sisters, and 3D printed plastic things from Andy.
I attach sentiment to many, many things. Especially if they literally come from my kids. When I cut their hair, we gather it up and spread it in the garden. I can’t imagine throwing a part of them away. All their umbilical stumps are buried outside and the braid I cut from Mo’s hair a year ago (the one that’s supposed to be donated) is still pinned to my cork board. Only partially out of laziness, but mostly because of my attachment. We made memories, so many memories, to which that hair was witness over the first five years of her life. I can’t get over that (welcome to my brain, people!).
If there’s a flat space, I will put something on it. I have flat-surfacitis. My life is messy. My world is messy. My kids are messy, and you know what? SO AM I. I am a messy person. You know the, “My house is messy, but not dirty” line? Well, sometimes, my house is just plain dirty. I suggest that you don’t eat anything off the kitchen floor.
But that has never once stopped me from inviting over a friend; AND it has never once stopped a friend from coming in. I prefer to see them, know them, and laugh with them. They are kind enough to overlook the crumbs and stains and laundry and one million pairs of shoes. Turns out connection/love/friendship trumps messiness every time.
Some friends even appreciate seeing the disaster (I’m sure they don’t appreciate tripping over shoes, but like I said before, there are approximately 1 million pair, so I’m not sure what to do about them). “My house is messy too,” they almost whisper. “It’s nice to see I’m not alone.”
Physical messes aren’t the only things that isolate people. “I’ve miscarried, too.” “I have depression, too.” People talk to me about the loneliness. They whisper or cry or laugh with me about all these messy parts of life that don’t fit into our plan, that aren’t polite to bring up over dinner.
And I am honored. It is a sacred thing for me…to hold the messy spaces.
So, I’m throwing out simplify.
Instead, I’m embracing real.
I want to be a real place, have a real home, be a real person. I want to be a safe place for other people to be real.
Maybe someday, when I don’t have four little faces and eight little hands to wash, I’ll buy the white paint. Maybe someday, when I don’t need to host a weekly ladies night to keep the darkness away, I’ll spend an evening a week culling miscellany instead. Maybe someday my pantry and closets and bathroom drawers will be organized. Maybe someday that will be my reality. Maybe.
But I think there will always be messes.
And that’s ok.
Because that is my real.
Come on over.
Keep in mind, none of this is meant as a judgement on you. I’m never talking at people, only about myself. If you have the gift of homemaking, or if you work really hard at it, and your house is beautiful, yay! I’m so happy for you! I hope you don’t mind coming over and brushing the crumbs off my kitchen chair before you sit down and have a glass of wine, or two.
Also, can I still use the word “trump” when I write? I’m not sure…