My roommates and I aren’t…excessively messy people.
I mean, Laura and Krista are clean. Quite clean. Tess and I are cluttered, but we try to contain our clutterial sprawl as much as we can. This means that there are awkward pockets of our apartment that are filled with books, papers, shoes, jackets, or what have you. It’s sort of like living in an ancient Egyptian pyramid, where you explore empty hallways and cavernous rooms until you suddenly stumble upon a corner stacked with jars of organs. I like to think of it as discovering treasure.
Last night I got back from my sorority retreat exhausted and ready to drop. After receiving some unexpected phone calls and finishing the planning for said retreat, I had only gotten about three hours of sleep, and had spent the day in energy-burning ‘leadership mode’. I parked my car, shambled up the stairs, swiped my dilapidated ID card twice because it didn’t read the first time, and pushed open the door.
I was pretty sure I was in the wrong apartment.
The kitchen was swept. The floor was vacuumed. There was art on the walls and shelves where there hadn’t been shelves before. The hallway was clear and the windowsills had been dusted.
There was a vase of flowers sitting pertly on one of the new shelves.
I struggled to make sense of this new development. Possibly we had been host to cleaning gnomes? Like, ‘Elves and the Shoemaker’ style, except instead of making clogs they alphabetized our DVD’s. Maybe some sort of selective fire had started that burned only the clutter and dissolved the dirt. Or possibly this just wasn’t my apartment.
That was it. This wasn’t our apartment.
“Oh,” Tess piped up from her chair. “You’re home!”
“Hiiii,” I said, reevaluating the situation. Kevin grinned from the couch.
“How’d it go?” he asked.
“Good. So. Uh. Our….uh.”
“Yeah,” Tess looked a little sheepish. She bit her lip. “I had…I had a lot of caffeine today.”
“This,” I gestured to our new Stepford apartment, “is from caffeine?”
“Well, I’ve never been affected by caffeine like that before! I’ve had coffee! I’ve had tons of coffee before. I’ve had like, those five hour energy drinks, and it’s just been like, oh, okay, now I’m awake, but yesterday it was just like…bwaaaugh!” I blinked at her. Tess continued. “Maybe it was because it was dark coffee? Because the coffee I usually have is just full of sugar and this was like just a regular full cup of coffee. Not even full. It as like three fourths of a cup of coffee. And I just needed to do something right then and I started picking up and I ended by washing windows.”
“I…” I glanced over at the late afternoon sunshine streaming onto the floor. “You washed the windows?”
I looked around the apartment and let it settle in.
“Yeah,” I said. “It looks nice. I like it. Thanks.”
This morning I’ve been sitting and working on a speech I need to give tomorrow, glorifying in the clean living room. The vacuumed floor is the real treat. We have a vacuum that was donated to us by my folks, but it…uh…it smokes when we turn it on, and belches out fumes of burned dog hair. So we just live with any bits of things that end up on the floor. Tess actually went next door to the guy’s apartment, borrowed their tiny Dust Devil vacuum cleaner and I can only imagine she spent the afternoon on her hands and knees, changing the bag out after every two square feet. Already I’m noticing a thing I’ve left here, a thing I’ve left there. I wonder how long we’ll go before we need to give Tess another cup of coffee.