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Why I Could Happily Be a Crazy Cat Lady But Won’t Be

December 29, 2008

I am quite sure that if given the opportunity to do so, I could quite happily live as a hermit.

I relish the gentle murmur of quiet solitude (and the occasional chance to dance around in underpants, singing songs that I am too embarrassed to admit in public that I like). Being by myself has never bothered me. Rowdy parties have often found me seeking shelter in quiet corners. A few weeks ago, my roommate Kim invited me to come to a Christmas party mostly attended by people I wouldn’t know. My immediate response once we arrived was to station myself on the couch with a cocktail and spend the whole night talking with the two or three people I came with. To strangers, I must appear unbearably boring and aloof.

I’m a creature of habit to a fault. At the gray old age of 24, I find myself already turning into, not just my mother, but my grandmother. While resembling either woman is both inevitable and not in itself a bad thing, I’m not ready for that transformation just yet. As I sit here, wrapped in a shawl to keep off the cold from the big bay window behind my bed (you think I jest?), the words “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” are quite nearly hanging on the edge of my lips.

The truth?
I’m a control freak that keeps to my quiet traditions because other people get messy.

It is in moments like these that I praise God for my four untidy, opinionated and gloriously different roommates. While the appeal of living in community these days is that it’s simply cheaper, I find it a must for someone like me. I would gladly live alone, savoring the chance to make sure each picture frame was perfectly straight, and that the frying pan was scrubbed seconds after the grilled cheese was whisked onto the waiting plate. In the obsessive, tidy corners of my OCD soul, I would almost rather have the satisfaction of arranging the kitchen cupboards in my weirdly specific patterns than share in the company of other people on a regular (and healthy) basis.

I find myself getting annoyed at the littlest things and usually, it’s because people conveniently forget that the world revolves around me (doesn’t it…right?). Finding myself alone at home the other day, faced with piles of dirty dishes that weren’t mine, I actually threw a bonafide tantrum, chucking dirty kitchen towels onto the floor amidst squeals of injustice and anger just because someone had left the kitchen messy. (Shameful, I know.)

“They purposely don’t wipe the counter off because they want to waste my time. When laughter from downstairs drifts up while I am trying to sleep, I know it’s just because they think I sleep too much and don’t want me to be sleeping. The “me”-memo seems to have gotten lost under that pile of paper and cardboard that no one else will take to the bins downstairs. Don’t you realize that your very existence should be organized to give credit to my methods, ways and traditions? This blatant disregard for the dominance of my comfort is enough to make me believe that the world has absolutely nothing to do with me.”

(A revolutionary concept. “The earth is God’s, and everything in it.”)

Though I may be giving up the chance to begin my cat collection or shield my shiny kitchen utensils from blemish, I need the company of other people who are willing to share themselves with me in the sense of the everyday. I need their quirks, their obnoxious habits, their late night conversations, their unwashed plates sitting on the counter, their hugs after a long day, their notes on my door, reminding me that the electricity bill is due soon. Kicking me unforgivingly in the pants, knocking my tensely organized ways over like Jenga blocks and then making me laugh about it. I crave the inside jokes, the companionship, the scattered shoes, someone to eat the other half of the pasta because you had no idea it made that much. As much as our impatience and laziness fights against it, we are faced with the inevitability that we need each other.

Oh what deep and exuberant joy my roommates in college experienced by messing around with my control tendencies. They absolutely loved to do things like take pens out of the jar on the desk, move pictures askew and make (usually dirty) alterations to my “to do” lists, then hold my hands behind my back, refusing to allow me to fix everything. Now to their credit and kindness, they would let me neaten and organize their stuff when I was stressed and had to clean before I exploded. Noelle and Sandra never questioned me when they’d come home to me scrubbing the bathroom floor or folding their clothes. They simply let me be a psychotic weirdo and vacuum away my problems.

While living in a tidy one-bedroom apartment, with matching coffee cups and all LED light bulbs appeals to me, I resist the temptation like one avoiding an addiction. I remember Don Miller speaking of similar experiences in “Blue Like Jazz.” An addiction is just what it is — an addiction to self, to pride, to ego, to space, to privilege and entitlement. Perhaps I’d be cozy, nestled in a bundle of my securities and comforts, but I’m not so concerned about that anymore.

I want the messiness of life and of other people. I want their uneven edges, their differences, their otherness, their wild inconsistencies and their ridiculous habits. I want to forget about myself in learning to understand and love their darkness and light. I want to stop caring so much about how clean the floors are and start caring more about the people slicing carrots next to me in the kitchen. I want to enjoy food fights without worrying about who will clean it up and play in the snow without thinking about where the mop is to clean up the front hallway once we go back inside.

It comes down to this.
Get uncomfortable, get shaken around, get woken up, get messy, laugh loudly, keep talking instead of sleeping, stop worrying, start living, keep loving. (And have roommates. It’s good for you.)

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    December 30, 2008 10:51 pm

    I was actually laughing out loud to myself while reading this blog. I sometimes think I am some insanely weird 22 year old who loves to sit in every night in my heated bed with hot tea and a good book, rather than going out partying. My family and friends find it humorous to move things around in my room before they leave it so I have to come back and put it back in it “exact place” before I leave. Because it might be the end of the world if my water bottle is setting on my desk not in my fridge. I have these tendencies and sometimes I let them stress me out, and this blog really made me look at those tendencies and turn them into reliefs. A little change of pace maybe? It’s absolutely nuts how much we are alike, and I cannot wait to go out together…for a cuppa joe 🙂
    again..thank you! you are now one of the three blogs I read faithfully!

  2. this0side0of0the0truth permalink
    December 31, 2008 1:10 am

    It might also help to stop worrying about how much you worry about these things.

  3. Glo permalink
    December 31, 2008 9:48 am

    Oh Caroline! I love remembering that your journal is in my bookmarks and getting a lovely slice of your life. I can tell that you lovingly create these entries, much like your scuffins, lol. As a non-neat freak I cannot relate to that aspect of your life, but I CAN relate to the need for quiet traditions. I think Thailand drilled it more into me that I am a creature of habit, and I learned that more and more with every clubbing experience I turned down to spend the night in my apartment making dinner with my roommate. Variety is the spice of life, though, correct? Without people like you, I would not have a delightful (and reassuring) blog to read on lazy holiday breaks. Nor would I have someone who enjoys sitting in coffee shops with me, talking about God and reassuring me that that inkling in my soul that there is joy behind everything is a good outlook to have.

    Also: Can I come play with your kitties if your plans come to fruition?

    Also Also: Where do you get your pictures from? They are quite good quality.

    Love,
    Glo

  4. Caroline permalink*
    December 31, 2008 11:58 am

    Amanda: I am so glad I am not the only elderly 20-something. 🙂 I think once we get that cuppa joe, we will have a lot to talk about! I am really excited!

    Noelle: True statement. And sage advice.

    Glo: I cannot wait to sit down and actually get to talk to you. I love you sooooooooooo much and if I ever get kitties, you can be their aunt. 🙂

  5. RacheyPoo permalink
    December 31, 2008 10:02 pm

    “It is in moments like these that I praise God for my four untidy, opinionated and gloriously different roommates.” – and what is this supposed to mean? Im totally taking it as a compliment by the way.
    And dont feel bad about throwing a tantrum at the sight of MY dirty dishes – i would have done the same thing. Im not the type of OCD that requires perfection, but rather I am allowed whatever I wish and EVERYONE ELSE must be perfect! haha

    Also I completely support a food fight. And I am going to try to jump in your bed and keep you up all night from now on.

    You’re a good roomie 🙂 Know that I will always be in the corner with you 😉

    p.s.
    you should be a columnist

  6. Caroline permalink*
    January 1, 2009 11:31 pm

    Blogs are the new columns, so it works.

    I love you enough to clean your dirty dishes and take it out on the towels.

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