Lately, I’ve been cleaning up my apartment and packing in preparation for a move to a new complex (a whopping .8 miles away) that will better suit my needs. Namely, I won’t have to carry my 14 foot kayak up and down from the third floor and then wrestle it into it’s tight fit against the far wall. Rent is also much cheaper, so that’s awesome.
As I did the first major clean-up of my apartment in a long time, I was reminded of two things. First, I was reminded of this poem I wrote the last time I was cleaning up, right before my family visited:
The seating arrangement in my apartment
Cleanliness sits next to Godliness, which must
then sit next to company. While loneliness,
the ugly stepsister, sits in the next room
not mopping the floors except when somebody
is watching. These interactions remind me
why I never liked to live alone. Dishes
sit on the counter and my kayak doubles
as a coffee table and there is nobody
to yell at me about the mess I’ve left.
Certainly, I can bring myself to dispose
of the trash before it smells — or
just after it smells — and to give
the cooking surfaces an occasional
wipe, usually without soap, but my
God-forsaken apartment will never actually
be clean until my mother comes to visit.
—James Patrick Schmidt
The second thing I was reminded of is that cleaning up isn’t really very hard.
That poem is an exaggeration about how bad I am at cleaning, but I am far from being a neat freak. It has nothing to do with my knowledge or skill in cleaning (though I am scared of vacuum cleaners), but rather just that I feel no motivation to clean beyond what is minimally necessary to stay healthy, and I always clean my dishes before I reuse them.
Not all of my apartments have been like this. But, as the poem points out, I usually have roommates. And I find it a lot easier to clean when I have roommates. Even in the Lake House, which would appropriately be classified as a hive of scum and villany in the non-metaphorical sense, I always did my best to clean the public areas where my friends would come over for games and parties. In my apartment now, I rarely have anyone visit.
And while I’ve let my house cleaning habits degrade, I think it’s worth noting that my personal hygiene has not. I won’t even walk to get my mail without brushing my teeth. I shower at least once a day. Hell, I don’t even like to go out unless I’ve put something in my hair to keep it from frizzing all over the place.
All of these ramblings help me realize that the times I bother to clean up is when other people are going to see me or my living space. It’s a matter of pride. And frankly, I’m not that proud of my current residence.
Gainesville is home in the sense that I live here, but I don’t feel like I’ve built any life here. I didn’t even pick out this apartment, I took over a sublease for a coworker who wanted to move for financial reasons. And rarely do I have anyone come over to my apartment, so I just let the mess go a lot longer than I should.
I’m really struggling to feel like I belong. I’ve found friends and found places to go, but this city doesn’t remain on my long-term plans and I think that’s part of my problem. It’s probably a bad attitude to have, and it’s an attitude I’d like to shake off as I transition into my new apartment.
Maybe I just need to throw more parties.