Neat Freak

I am. I’ll admit it. I’m a neat freak. I like a place for everything, and everything in its place. Shipshape and Bristol fashion. I cannot have any icons on my desktop. Or emails in my inbox (they all get filed in subfolders instead, so my inbox looks empty). I cannot take off my shoes and leave them there in a corner. I can’t watch a tv show or movie with a cluttered messy room without feeling a little nauseous. I like everything that I can see to be orderly, neat, and in its rightful place. The condition of cupboards worries me less – as long as the door is closed……………!!! Remember the Friends episode where Monica can’t sleep because her shoes are in the living room, out of place? That’s me. Can’t leave a messy room, no matter how tired I am. I even realised lately that the reason that I like watching snooker is because the players are basically tidying up the balls into the pockets……… yes, really.

Being a neat freak might seem to be a good thing. Cleanliness, orderliness, these are desirable traits, yes?

Well, yes and no. For one thing, not everyone shares my obsession with symmetry and order (you know double light switches and electrical sockets? the switches have to both be on or off, not one one way and the other the other. I’ll go upstairs in darkness rather than have 2 switches going the opposite way). Tony most certainly doesn’t, and while my neatness has rubbed off a little bit on him over the years, by no means enough to satisfy me. When he takes off his shoes, they stay right there, in the middle of the living room. I’m looking – no, glaring – at a pair right now. It drives me a little bit nuts.

But more importantly, the older I get, the more I experience life, the more I realise just how messy it is. People behave inexplicably, out of sequence, out of order. They have a disconcerting habit of stepping outside the roles you cast for them, outside of the neat little box you have filed them in. People let you down, behave irrationally, change. Relationships, in particular, are messy, especially family and close friends. And when you are a neat freak, and things get messy, well the inclination is to make a clean sweep of it, and dispose of the mess. But you just can’t do that when it comes to people you love. You have to learn to live with life no matter how messy it gets. You have to realise that human beings can’t be managed and organised into neat little compartments. You have to accept that other people want to live their lives in a different way to you, and that their way may be a whole lot messier than your own, and that’s okay.

But I still can’t live with those shoes right in the middle of my living room……


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