Monday, August 23, 2010

In the Closet

It was all very Sex and the City in my apartment on Saturday morning. I was cleaning out my closet, shoving things this way and that, and trying to find room that really wasn't there. There was good reason for this: I was trying to find a small corner of space for The Lady-Killer's clothes, which were belching out of a series of suitcases and backpacks on my bedroom floor.

And here's the interesting part: I wasn't annoyed by the pile of clothes. I wasn't distressed or antsy or whipped into a frenzy by some Virgo desire to seize those clothes and fold them--every last one--into a tight square of fabric. His clothes have been in a corner of my room for a few months now, and I've simply cleaned and vacuumed around them. TLK has a streak of OCD--he seriously loves seeing things arranged in crisp right angles--and he is, as a general rule, tidy. His clothes are contained and never spread about. There is never a trail of his socks and underwear, his jeans, his t-shirts, strewn about the apartment. He does not shed things as he comes through the door at night. Instead, he goes into my bedroom and removes his clothes, leaves them in a neat little pile under one of the windows.

So I wasn't moved to find closet space for him because his clothes were driving me crazy or cramping my style; instead, I was trying to find him closet space because I felt sort of bad for him, the boy who's been living out of suitcases and backpacks since May.

In the beginning, TLK was careful and unobtrusive about his things. When he came over, he usually had a single small backpack, which he would take into my office and store there, between my floor lamp and the giant box of batting Abbey likes to sleep in. I don't know if he knew he had to be gentle with me, that he had to ease me into the idea of an increased intimacy or what, but TLK did it just right. Eventually, the backpack migrated from the office into my bedroom, and now, after two weeks of his housesitting, the backpack has multiplied to several and a suitcase. For three months, TLK has been a perpetual sleepover guest. And on Saturday I felt like it was time to give him a little room of his own.

After all, I'd already suffered the shock of opening my medicine cabinet on my return to Maine and seeing the empty space I'd left filled with his things: deodorant, contacts, saline solution, packets of Vitamin D for his new tattoos.

Because the cabinet was full of those things, there was no room for my makeup bag, my brush, my lotions, my perfume. And for a second I panicked. Where would my things go? I was just one girl, and I had lived in this apartment for a year and a half, and it was already pushing capacity in a way that has me storing my vacuum in my bedroom closet, and it's such a tight fit that you can hear its handle scrape the door every time you open or shut it.

But then I took a deep breath and realized I was insane, that there was plenty of room, that I just needed to get creative. And I did, and it only took all of fifteen minutes of rearranging. So I figured I could extend the creativity to the closet, which, yes, was more difficult, but we got it done. TLK managed to line up a few piles of pants, shirts, and socks on one of my shelves.

And when we were done I felt pretty good. I felt pretty accomplished. It seemed like a big deal because, as should be pretty evident by now, I am completely insane and have unreasonable expectations about pretty much everything, including how things need to go and be in my apartment.

It's a miracle anyone even wants to spend time here.

And later, when I called Amy, I told her when I stepped back and surveyed the finished work, I had a few Sex and the City flashbacks, that I was thinking of that episode where Big gives Carrie the pink brush head to his toothbrush. Carrie, of course, thought it was a big deal. That pink toothbrush must mean something! It must be a demonstration of his feelings for her (it wasn't) or a promise of things to come (negative) or a declaration of his intent to change (forget it). It was just a tooth brush head he wasn't using.

But this felt more important than all that. It seemed like something more. That I wasn't panicking, that I wasn't spiraling into a frightened corner of my mind was a testament to something--whether it was him or me or the two of us together. Something is different in me these days--there's less insanity, less struggle for control and perfection, less need to have everything in my life be perfectly planned and considered--and it's liberating.

We don't really "live together" right now, but the arrangement is pretty close. And when I used to think about how it would be to live with a boy, I thought it would be terrifying. Frightening. Horrible. Awful. I thought I'd hate it, that I wouldn't really be capable of it, that I'd fail, that I'd drive the boy crazy. But here's what I know right now: This weekend I cleared out a section of my closet for all the right reasons--not because I was getting frustrated by his things but because I wanted him to feel like he was valued, that he was someone who didn't need to constantly run a backpack of clothes between his house and mine. And I'm not terrified, frightened, or horrified. I'm just here, and he is too.

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