30 July 2008

neglect, part two

A quirky thing about me: just prior to leaving home for a road trip, whether it be short or long, I have this uncontrollable freakish thing about completing both stocking and deep cleaning projects all around the house. It becomes almost a manic thing, running on over-drive and caffeine, throwing aside sleep.

The kind of deep cleaning that involves: scrubbing the abyss underneath the burners and drip bowls, where the fossilized boiled-over bits of past meals have found a home; taking the bins out of the refrigerator and scrubbing the walls and shelves in the back, where dehydrated bits of food cling; removing all the items that "decorate" the counter-tops and scrubbing the tile grout with a brush in a futile effort to rid it of coffee and tomato stains. Let's not forget organizing drawers in the bathrooms as well as the pantry, and getting all the laundry done (including blankets and quilts). Granted, some of these things are done each day, each week, to some degree, but usually just "surface".

Almost out of baking powder and vanilla? Down to the last one-third tube of toothpaste? Laundry soap half gone? These things need to be purchased, along with anything else even remotely perceived as possibly running out before I return.  I give it a one-month window of stock.

My thought behind this behavior, I have come to realize after years of self-therapy and reflection, sits on the premise of my potential demise while gone. Don't laugh. Who wants strangers and family to see a disorganized, messy house? This "problem" of mine is exponentially heightened when the only one leaving is me. I don't want my husband to have to worry about the cleaning, the lacking of basic things being stocked, or any disorganization while also dealing with me not being there. I don't want him to become overwhelmed with daily things or house details in my absence. He is quite capable of being on his own...I just don't want him to have to worry about it.

So, when my doctor called me recently at seven in the evening telling me, ordering me, to go to the emergency room right then, my retort was "Are you sure? Can it wait until Monday?" After all, my obsession of leaving the house and affairs in a certain state was kicking in at a record-breaking speed. I didn't hear much of what she said after that because I was running through my mind the time it would take for me to do certain "necessary " things before I trudged off to the hospital. And I had to pad some of that time-line since I wasn't feeling well. OK, so on hindsight, my frame of mind wasn't "normal". I had a small meltdown as I tried to do some laundry, straightened up a few projects, and generally bounced around the house. I stalled by packing a bag, thinking that if I packed it, I wouldn't be staying and would return home later that evening...and I wouldn't be leaving anything unfinished.

As a result, the refrigerator never got updated. It had only been two weeks since it had been gutted and scrubbed, so how bad could it be? Then I was gone for two days, followed by several more when I was out of commission. I remember my dear husband saying something about a bag being squishy, but I was on medication and I assumed he took care of it.

This morning I went to the refrigerator in search of soup-making ingredients such as green onions and spinach. What I found were bags of green slime and soft indistinguishable substances. Food for my worms, already partly digested. A soup only they could appreciate. A soup that dripped from the bags as I lifted them out of the drawers. A soup that led to everything being removed and scrutinized for freshness. See why I have this abnormal cleaning and stocking issue?!  Really, it's not his fault at all.  I "came" this way.

It now sparkles. No odors. No questionable containers or packages. No outdated, over-ripe, products. I'm ready for my CSA box!


Janice said...

Was so glad to see you back at knitting on Weds nite. Who cares what grows what in the fridge, your health is much more important. Please stop and take care of yourself.

cher said...

Oh my gosh that is too funny! I do exactly the same thing. I've chalked it up to wanting to come home to a model home when we return from vacation so there is less to do, but I know it's just my fear of strangers coming into the house and thinking bad things about me.