On Mess

I thought that by now I would have permanently escaped mess. Escaping mess, I would have also escaped cleaning up. By now,  I thought, I would be able to start existing in earnest; in a pristine and well-oiled environment I could start the perpetual-motion machine which would define my adulthood as one of accomplished glory and efficiency. Now that I didn't have to deal with the mess my mother dealt with, I could write, carry on a clear-cut yet passionate relationship with my husband, excel in school, save scads of money, and finally, steadily begin to acquire gorgeous new possessions instead of haphazardly replacing the victims of breakdowns, wear, accidents.

Escaping mess was probably my penultimate childhood goal. My bedroom was as minutely arranged as a nativity scene on a mantel. Everything that didn't fit the schema was chucked outside the door. If something broke, I hated myself and threw it out. If I ate something too messy, too large, larger, crumblier than a carrot or an apple, I hated myself and threw it up. I panicked over the relentless advance of kipple, and drew my circle ever smaller. The dream of a poised and perfect stasis dies hard. However. 



By now I see that since I left home, started eating, and grew up, I have been actively courting mess. The mess of living with a partner. The mess of transplanting in the kitchen. The aphids in the pepper plant. The mess of house-training a cat. The mess that is academia. The disappointing grades. The mess of moving. The mess of a mortgage. The mess of our very own water pipes, leaking through the ceiling. The mess of hauling gravel around the yard. The mess of tools and sawdust in the livingroom. The mess of writing-anyway (with my terrible penmanship, feeling ugly, in spite of noise, without a speck of inspiration). The mess of oiling a bicycle. The mess I never admit is mine. The mess of relationships: coworkers, family, tenants. The apologies. The mess of homemade food. The mess and mud of a garden. The failed radishes. The mess in the laundry room after replacing the windows. The mess of learning how to do something. The knitting ripped back 6 times. The mess of publishing poems that make me cringe a little. The mess I try not to clean up so I won't drive Tim crazy. The mess of grinding a knife. 


The knitting that got ripped back six times. But look at it now! It's a poppy pod.

Though I am living and managing, though I am making things, fixing things, though I am doing well, everything I want is a bit of a mess. So strange, and a little sad, to realize it.

This turned into something a little more vague and moralizing than I had intended. I would be very interested to hear about your views on specific or general life-messiness, should you care to comment or send off an email.