A Museum or Decomposed Bird

When I was younger I would often scurry over to my more uppity relatives house in order to avoid my uber slob sister, whom I was stuck sharing a room with at my own home. It was always surprising to bounce between the extremes that each house had in regard to the expected hygiene of the place. At my house, there was literal Crisco rubbed on the kitchen cabinets and walls (a product of a bizarre argument between my father and his second wife) verse my relative's house where they had a sitting room no one was allowed in as if guests were coming but never did. It seemed to me that there was a much needed middle ground in my life for a place that was both neat and functional which was noticeably lacking. This brings me to my point, how do we know when we are out of balance and lost living in an extreme? There's a fine line to denote the answer.


As stated above, my sister was and continued to be the biggest mess of a roommate that I have ever been stuck with. Even as a child I was grossed out by her and every time that she disgusted me I went elsewhere. One specific event was when I returned from summer camp to find that she left a dead and decomposing bird on the floor of our room and forbade me from moving it because her beloved cat had dragged it in some time ago. I planned to humor her until I had the room to myself and clean it up behind her back. That is until after a few hours and I accidentally stepped on it during that hot afternoon. After vomiting from the horror of it, I ran to my Aunties' house and cried to her about it. She said that I could stay the weekend and at first I felt total relief due to the pristine manner in which she maintained her home.


Unfortunately, that sense of relief was temporary. I soon found her life in her home to be odd to the point of nearly being a mental health condition. There were the usual things like that shoes were never to be worn inside, but then there were the less normal aspects of her home's cleanliness. When she set me up in her guest bathroom, she explained to me the shower squeegee. This shower squeegee was to be used before I stepped out of the shower in order to prevent watermarks from forming on the shower walls, but why? It seemed that the idea of her home not being catalog ready was too much for the woman to handle. Then I realized that all of her free time was used to keep her home in a sort of museum-like state to be preserved at all times. She had no hobbies or social life really, but her home was so impeccably clean that it could have won an award for it.


The truth was that purpose matters and when doing anything it is okay to ask "why?" from time to time. The dead bird on the floor at my sister's was definitely something that needed to be addressed because not handling it could lead to illness. The ritualized cleaning at my aunt's took up so much of her effort, she had nothing else she could have done in her day, making her life one giant chore. Both ways to live were unhealthy not only for the people living it but the people around it. Function needs a purpose, always. Or so a neat freak/ slob like me would have you believe.