Sitting in the dark with a peanut butter and apricot jelly sandwich, with a fan pressed against my skin at maximum speed, feeling somewhat holy.
The room is, by my standards, and I’d guess most other people’s, clean. There isn’t anything hiding under the bed except a giant linen bag with a zipper filled with winter clothing. There aren’t piles like there usually are when I stop cleaning for the day; however, I already feel anxious about what’s happening with the clothing I have on now, where things are going to wind up, what I’m going to do with my plate. I want, all of a sudden, to be alert to all of it.
That’s the story, that’s the sacramental nature of this weekend, that I worked myself to the bone to find homes for my things. It is not perfect. I haven’t run the vacuum cleaner yet, everything’s haphazard on the bookshelves. It only “looks” neat. I keep telling myself not to call this done. But I know, for me, right now…looking neat is a far better place than where it was and even that is infinitely better than where it has been…and finding the strength to maintain it instead of being frustrated at myself over not having the interest to get down on my hands and knees and fluff carpet fibers until they’re perfectly coiffed is the actual Herculean task at hand.
I wish I took a before picture. It looks rather bare now. I found myself having to stop and breathe because I was willing to toss everything, give away everything. I had to remind myself that it isn’t a dorm room and I don’t have to live with everything out of these four walls forever and always. I might someday want a crimson crush velour throw pillow trimmed with little plastic crystals.. Computer for a few minutes, the bell went off, time to clean for a few minutes, back and forth, up and down off this lowrider IKEA bed for nearly two days straight. It wasn’t mania, but it was an intense couple of days. I forgot to worry about why I needed to clean up and instead just did. So now the universe has a sense of order for the moment and I don’t want to let that go. I am up one or two rung on the adulting ladder. I want to make my lunch, pick out my clothes, get ready to maybe wake up early and exercise. All these things that take no time at all when you’re not digging through skyscapes of clothing and paper.
So, that was a big portion of the weekend. The other thing is that I went to the grocery store. No. I know. I know. I have been a thousand times and I will go a thousand more. But what mattered this time was that I didn’t hurry out of there. I am in the extraordinarily fortunate position, that I can, if I want, go to the store with a list and generally get what I want. But more often than not, anxiety and bad planning keeps me from buying anything other than the same seven or eight things. It’s all crap and it’s gone that night, again, more often than not. Pizza, soda, candy, something nominally a vegetable like carrot sticks. Some weird frozen thing (possibly, probably french fries) or some bottled water. Depending on the time of day…Starbucks? Because, you know, you’re breathing and you’re standing in front of a Starbucks and those five bucks might as well be spent on getting you loaded and a bit sparky rather than the exhausted mess that diet generally molds you into being.
Then I’d think, okay, but should I get some fast food before I bring this home?
I know. Some part of me does know.
I eat out a lot. One of those big, furry, Allie Brosh-style alots. I attach feelings to eating out. It represents a certainly level of security and in my mind, it hints at worthiness. Nobody would refuse to serve me, I’ve got my money in my hand, and I can walk out with my little package and be as fancy as all the other fancy, worthy, bleary-eyed families in the line.
So I have been thinking lately about what I can do to change this habit, this addiction, this life plan without a life. I keep going back to when did I eat like a normal person? And the answer to that was: when someone else took care of providing you with it. I was always helping my mother in the kitchen, starting as chief stirrer, and then, I paid attention. Even if my mother seems unsure about this fact, I can definitely cook. I definitely like cooking. I just feel like somehow, I’m missing out. I’m not proving my okayness. But…now, after so many years of being able to grab whatever I want, whenever I want and have as much of it as I physically can get down my gullet, I wonder: what if I just made my own food? What if that was the diet? Just cooking and eating at home for a while. Just spending time with making it. If I was a part of a family where they needed me to cook for them, what would I cook? What would be my specialty the same way I think of my grandmother’s peach cobbler, my mother’s roast. Not trying to make food I didn’t want to eat, but just to make it and keep it around so that home food felt as good and as satisfying and as couched in worthiness as an ugly, stale-tasting paper-wrapped hamburger.
I went to the grocery store and I actually shopped. I actually made a list and didn’t hurry myself to get out because there were too many people or out because it would be too heavy to haul up the stairs in three trips or out because I was so hungry I needed to eat immediately.
I bought a goddamned roast in the effort to recreate one of those meals. I know I’ll have a week’s worth of leftovers, but I’m looking forward to that, too.
I know this is a bit of a psychic switch flipped. I know this isn’t a permanent form of my personality. I know this is not what I am used to or comfortable with.
I know this is about control. I know this is me being upset about Mr. Confusion giving me the ol’ brush-off. Still. Yes,I know this is about feeling like I infantilize myself and I let myself be infantilized and wanting to say, hey, no, I can handle a few things. Maybe not EVERYTHING, but I can keep a room clean. I can get myself fed. But it’s also about, hey, I like having clean sheets to climb into, I like not having to trip over my own things. I like having food in the cupboards and knowing what to do with it. I like who I am when those factors are going on in my life. They also let my brain do other things because I don’t have to run the circuit of SHIT, THIS ROOM IS SO MESSY…I AM A MESSY PERSON…NOBODY NEW CAN EVER SEE THIS…SHIT, I’LL ALWAYS BE ALONE. OH, THANK GOD, I WILL NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT CLEANING THIS ROOM. Or some variation on some vicious cycle shit.
More to say, but I’ve said enough.