Joys of Living Alone
Living with someone else can be so frustrating. I am late to meet up
with a friend and Rebecca has gone and done me the favor of putting my
keys away for me, which means Ill never find them.
When I lived alone, there was no one to do me favors like move my stuff
around. For some reason, Rebecca takes a deep and personal interest
in my desk. This room is a pig hole, she says every time she
passes by. Maybe that statement was fair when I had piles of dishes
stacked on the printer, but Ive shaped up from those bachelor days. I
can take care of myself. Ive even got a plant on my desk, and
its still alive, thank you very much. But that isnt enough for
Rebecca. The floor has to be completely picked up, regardless of
whether Im in the middle of an important project or not. She
especially likes to harp on the pile of paper thats been sitting by the
filing cabinet for three months. Do you even know whats in
that pile? she always asks. All I can remember is that it is a
pile, one I made, so it must contain important stuff. One time she
offered to take care of it for me. I recognized that tone in her
voice: it was the same one she used when she tried to toss all my comic
books into the recycling bin. Ive tried moving the pile to a new
spot on the floor and changing the top sheet so shell think its a
new pile, but that never seems to work. I could probably sort
through the whole pile in about fifteen minutes. The problem is that
Im always in the middle of a more important project.
No luck with the keys yet and Rebecca isnt answering my calls for help.
I lift a pile of mail to see if the keys are hiding there. When I
lived alone, piles didnt matter. I knew where they were and could
step over them in the middle of the night on my way to the bathroom.
Rebecca just cannot appreciate what a wonderful workspace the floor makes,
and its many times larger than any desk. However, to give Rebecca
her due, she seeks order for the sake of a sane and beautiful home.
Its just that sometimes her idea of what picked up means is
inhuman. The stove has to be perfectly clean, no matter that Ill
be cooking bacon on it in fifteen minutes. Shes simply not
practical about her level of organization. Ive watched her chase
the dog around with the vacuum so the floor could be clean of dog hair for
longer than thirty seconds.
I look at my watch. Now Im more than 20 minutes late. When
I lived in LA I could always fall back on the excuse that I hit traffic,
but in Berkeley I have to come up with a different creative story each
time. I wouldn't want to embarrass Rebecca by telling people Im
late because she lost my keys. (Interesting factoid: even though
everyone in LA uses the traffic excuse on a daily basis, they never
suspect that it is less than the honest truth when used by someone else.)
Rebecca! I call out. Not only are my keys lost but now the
only person who knows where they are is too. I dont know which is
more hopeless an undertaking: looking for my keys or looking for her.
You see, Rebecca believes that everything in the house should have a home.
That means that this particular pot goes here, this gadget there (this
measuring cup is made of metal so it goes in this drawer, with all the
knives and skewers), and the keys go
Well thats exactly the point. I dont mind things having a
home; what I mind is that she keeps changing it. Three months is
about how long something will stay in the same spot. The first sign
that shes been at it in the kitchen is that the toaster will have moved
to a better home. I dont unload the dishwasher for a few
days until I figure out where everything goes again (this measuring cup
is used for my diet so it goes in this cabinet with all the glasses and
baby bottles). I will admit that the change is refreshing, and
that I enjoy the organization of my room much more now that I can actually
get to my desk and find what I am looking for, but its just moments
like these, when something important like my keys disappear, that her
system absolutely drives me crazy.
Theres no sign of Rebecca anywhere. Its almost like shes
hiding from me on purpose in the back of the tool shed laughing at how I
cant find my keys. Come to think of it, I cant find my son
Skylar either. Then it strikes me, just as I see my keys sitting on
top of the piano where I left them when I came home from the store:
Rebecca is up at her mothers and has been for the last three days.
Sheepishly I reach for my keys.
See? Look how lost I am without her.