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Arriving to Messiness

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One of the best parts of visiting our Boston condo is the fact that it’s kind of like a hotel. If all is as it should be, I can arrive to a perfectly-made bed, a pile of fluffy towels, and a pristine collection of rooms that is immaculate, save perhaps for some dust that can be easily cleaned with a quick pass of the Swiffer. There’s a peace and tranquility that appeals to my Virgo mind upon seeing a perfectly-kept room, and a clean and orderly setting. And yes, there’s something anal about it, but there’s something anal about my entire life. Upon departing Boston, I make sure to leave everything as it was found, if not cleaner, because I know someone, and not necessarily me, will get to have the same experience.

This doesn’t always happen when my brother has been in the condo. Last weekend I needed a peaceful entry more than anything, but I walked into a place that was missing its bath towels, missing all toilet paper, missing all tissues, and missing all paper towels. There was, however, a used band-aid on the floor, a bunch of beer in the fridge, a dirty dish in the sink, and crumbs and water glass stains all over our grandmother’s table. Typical stuff that I’ve asked my brother to be careful of, so many times that a recent text exchange found him exasperatingly stating, “It seems like every time I go there, there’s a problem!” Umm, yeah. That’s kind of the point. This time, I just gave up. It’s one of the many fundamental differences between my brother and myself. Most people assume I’m the spoiled and selfish one, but underneath it all that’s not the case. I may demand cologne and clothing and act the diva, but I would never think of leaving a house without towels or toilet paper for the next visitor. How hard is it to put a load of laundry in the washer that’s right outside our door? I do it every time I’m in Boston. But I suppose when you still live with your parents, you don’t have to take of yourself and you forget such simple acts of existence. (The deteriorating state of my parents’ house is ample proof of this, and there is no way I will allow that to spread to Boston.)

As much as it irked me, I felt myself giving up to the whole hopelessness of the situation. Such antics and carelessness are hallmarks of my brother’s life. In some ways it’s part of his charm; in most ways it’s infuriating and annoying, but the notion of anything changing after three decades of it is a foolish one, and I’m surprised I haven’t come to that realization before now. That doesn’t make it right, it just makes it something over which I have no control. A good friend gave me some excellent advice: the only thing we can control is how we act in our own lives and how we treat other people. What they do with that, and how they behave, is on them.

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