I love Whoopee and I’m so pleased she is back to writing on her blog. Her blog is, hands down, one of the best family life blogs ever. (I may have accidentally had a sex dream about her husband recently though. How could I?! I felt terrible when I woke up because I reeeally like them as a couple). At the moment there is an interesting discussion happening over there, both in her post and in the numerous comments coming in, on how you feel about visiting or having a messy house. I am a ‘tidy house’ person whose soul and home have been completely crushed by the chaos of managing two young children and work outside the home.
I love going to visit people in untidy, lived-in houses. They never look the same twice, like a landscape in changing light. I feel flattered, welcome, and comfortable when invited into a lived-in house. I feel that way because things have not been hidden. I have been allowed to step into someone’s life just as it is, and I take that as a compliment. I like being surrounded by the hand-labelled, overflowing, boxes on their shelves; at the piles of books on the stairs, by things in progress. I like seeing life in a house. I feel at home and at ease and allowed to relax in a house that is for living in. Never tidy up for the Cornwells.
(Related: on the first warm day of Spring this year, I was walking through the neighbourhood, and I smelled marijuana. A man was walking towards me: young, black, wearing a cloud of skunk smoke. As we neared each other, he subtly hid the joint behind his back. I thought: what? It’s ME. HELLO? I used to smoke that. I used to grow it. I – Do I really look like someone you have to HIDE it from? Shit. Yes I do. And it really threw me, and made me feel dismayed.)
I don’t know why, sometimes, when you go to someone’s house, they say “Sorry about the mess,” when their possessions are lying around. Why are possessions called mess? Why are they apologised for? They are evidence of living, of doing, of being, creating. They are nothing to be ashamed of. Unless there’s like a dead body under it all and the laundry has been carefully arranged to hide it.