Perfection is simply a matter of perception. I have a friend, Ann, whose house consistently looks like downtown Kabul. Cats vie with Diet Coke cans for countertop space in her kitchen, and visitors are cautioned to watch out for the central vacuum hose strung out across the foyer. The powder room wallpaper is peeled off in huge chunks from the day she got tired of it and decided to take it down but then abandoned the project.
By contrast, her closet resembles a Brooks Brothers store, and her underwear drawer looks as if two gals from Victoria’s Secret show up every morning to arrange the inventory for her. I used to tease her about how she had it backwards, how it’s better to keep the large areas of the house clutter-free and in pristine condition. No one else sees the inside of her closet, so why would she bother keeping it in good shape?
Ann didn’t start freakishly cleaning her house in response to my taunts. Instead, she laughed and told me she didn’t give a skimpy thong about what I thought. And I love her for that.
Ann knows how to live, you see. While I’m maniacally sealing my granite countertops to preempt water stains, she’s sitting by the pool practicing preventive maintenance on her psyche.
Now I’m not so sure which of us actually has things backwards. Perhaps Ann’s right, that it’s saner to keep the interiors, the places no one else sees, orderly and to not give a damn what people think about the rest. Ann’s more concerned with the interior life, and even though we’re very different, I want to be her friend because she’s taught me to let go of my need to have everyone think my life looks perfect.
Sandi Hutcheson is an MFA student in St. Augustine, Florida. She has two adult daughters and a son in high school, as well as two dachshunds and an Australian Shepherd. You can read more of Sandi’s writing at Looks Great Naked where she writes under the name Grace Adams.
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