My mother was a neat freak. I’ve written about it a few times. Her idea of a fun afternoon was to organize her drawers. Not that they needed it. They were always perfect. Perfect, little stacks of whatever. Unmentionables. Nighties. Sweaters. Scarves. Hosiery. Socks. Handkerchiefs. Jewelry. Make up. Whatever.
In fact, when it comes to ‘order‘, you’d never know my mother and I were even related. We were total opposites.
It would drive her nuts. Whenever she’d come to visit me here, in Toronto, she always tried to put closets on our agenda of things to do. If we woke up and it was raining, or freezing cold or snowing she’d say (beg), hopefully: “Fransi, this would be a perfect day to do your closets. I’m here, I can help you. We’ll get it done really quickly if it’s the two of us. Take advantage of the fact I’m here and I can help you.”
Sometimes I took her up on it. One time, we really got into it and ended up doing every closet in my house. And all my drawers. Seven huge bags of clothes ended up going to Goodwill. Ten huge bags went into the trash (it was before recycling).
Stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks of magazines were tossed. Believe it or not, I couldn’t find any organization willing to take old magazines. Not the hospitals, not charities, nowhere. Dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of record albums were taken to second hand stores. I actually made some good money out of that.
You would have thought I’d given my mother a million bucks. The smile on her face went from ear to ear. Nothing I could ever have done would have made her as happy as she was, when we were finally finished. It took us the better part of a week. Working diligently each and every day. She was in heaven. She’d walk around the house opening closet and pantry doors and just stood there, admiring our handiwork. Like she was in a museum, looking at art. She did the same with all my drawers.
She told me it was the best vacation she’d ever had.
Even I was happy, I must admit. We’d created a thing of beauty. I swore I’d never let it get messy again. I swore I’d purge as I went, never accumulating stuff again. I swore I wouldn’t buy anything new, without getting rid of something I didn’t wear or use any more. I swore I’d put everything back exactly where I found it, each and every time I took it out. Or put it on. Or cooked with it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sure, my intentions were honourable. I’d meant it at the time. But a leopard can’t change its spots.
And such is the story of my life. At least my ‘closet‘ life.
Mary, my cleaning lady and my mother could have been sisters. Often times I come home, after my cleaning lady’s been here, and there are stacks of items left for me on the dining room table. That’s her subtle way of asking me to go through it all. And get rid of it. Which is why I always disappear when she comes. If I was here when she got here, she’d give me ‘assignments‘. So I take off. Hide at Starbucks until I know the coast is clear.
When my mother moved to Toronto, my cleaning lady worked for her, as well. They loved each other. No surprise there. They were cut from the same cloth. I am convinced they’d sit there, commiserating with each other. Comparing notes. Moaning about the state of my cupboards. Sighing. Shaking their heads. And conspiring with each other, figuring out ways to get me to clean out my closets more often. To stop saving stuff. To make sure all my hangers faced the same direction. To somehow manage to reform me. To turn me into a neat freak, like them.
They had their work cut out for them, trust me.
Which brings me to my current ‘situation‘. Trying to find a pair of sandals I really wanted to wear yesterday. Yep, my cleaning lady was here last Friday. And she doesn’t only leave me stacks of things to go through and get rid of. She also reorganizes. I know she’s doing it to help me. Because she knows I won’t do it, and it needs to be done. She’s also doing it because chaos gives her hives. I get it.
Actually I’m thrilled to come home and see a whole bunch of bags I’d had in the corner of the room gone. I just wish I knew what she’d done with the contents. Even though I know she’d NEVER throw anything away, I always panic. Get myself into a total lather as I rush around like a raving lunatic on a treasure hunt. Sometimes I find what I’m looking for relatively quickly and easily. Sometimes days can go by and I still can’t find it. And most of the time I have to call her and ask where she’s put it all. Because what’s logical to her, isn’t always logical to me.
Like the sandals.
For the life of me, I don’t know where the hell they are. My apartment’s not that big. I don’t have that many closets, which is part of the problem to begin with. Where the *&^% are they? What drove me even crazier was, as I was looking for the flippin’ sandals, I realized there were several other pairs of shoes missing. God alone knows what she did with them.
All this to say, I spent most of yesterday in my closets. On my hands and knees. Looking. Tidying. Tossing. Organizing. To no avail, I might add. The sandals are still MIA. But the closet’s in better shape.
Do you think she did it on purpose? Maybe this was all a scheme to get me to clean it out! I’ll probably find the missing footwear, back where it belongs, the next time she’s been at my house. I’ll let you know.