Island of Mess

There are a lot of things that I am both proud and ashamed of. I wonder if everyone has these.

Partly unrelated, I find myself cleaning a lot since I moved back home with my parents. Cathartic, I guess, but this neat-freak has always been there in the form of one or two slightly obsessive-compulsve tendencies which I could usually ignore. Perhaps inflamed by the situation that I’ve come from, they have multiplied in the bedrooms of my mind and scream at me now. The noise is deafening.

I’ve spent the last couple of days elbows-deep in soapy bleach water: straightening, reorganizing, scrubbing. It seems that this is the only attainable form of solace.

Most of the kitchen was cleaned yesterday from top to bottom. The ceiling and baseboards and light fixtures are just about the only things that remain untouched. And the table in the middle of the room, now cluttered with the things I haven’t had a chance to put away yet. The table looks like it’s in pain and I’m the only surgeon who can perform the life-saving operation. But I haven’t yet.


Because it dawned on me that I am that table, and the realisation makes me feel a little bit sick. I’m a mess right now, and I haven’t wanted to show it, so I’ve scrubbed myself up and organised, but the mess is still there sitting in the middle of everything. I am ashamed of my mess. But I’m also vaguely proud of it.

I think that people only get this messed-up if they really live, take chances, and get hurt in the process. Then pick themselves up and do it all over again. When they fail the next time, they reopen the scars and wounds that are still healing.

In the words of Sherman Alexie, “…I was [am] damaging my damage.” And that’s how one becomes an island of mess.


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