I’ve been meeting all kinds of new people recently, going on some first and second dates. I’ve decided that a first date is a little like letting someone into my sitting parlor. There’s a nice sitting area, a decorative but uncomfortable couch and two equally uncomfortable high back reading chairs, a nice rug, and a credenza full of interesting and beautiful pieces and accomplishments I’ve collected in life. It’s a beautifully decorated space I use when networking for my career, and while it is still a part of my house it isn’t really the space I live my day-to-day life in. Awkwardly we sit in the formal room for a time, talking about work, my schooling, where the different members of my large family live, and about the movies I’ve seen recently. Oftentimes we’ll wander together into the living room, but only after I’ve managed to shove a few untidy things in the backroom, vacuum up a little, and give the living room a quick dusting. It’s a lot more comfortable there and reveals more of my real day-to-day life, but it’s still clean and ready to receive new guests.
I’m picturing the hustle in my actual living room the hour before guests were coming over this weekend to watch a movie at my place. Just ask Jared, he came early on Sunday. We are no longer dating, but I still managed to boss him around like we still are. I had him washing dishes, wiping down the kitchen table, taking out the trash, and vacuuming the living room while I finished cleaning my bathroom/bedroom so guests could walk through and admire my clean bedroom on their way to the bathroom. (I’m afraid poor Jared will think twice about showing up early next time!) This isn’t just a metaphor. We all do it, but as an emotional metaphor it works as well.
I had had a rough time this weekend. I was rearranging things in my emotional backroom and stumbled across some icky stuff in the corner. I needed to talk about it, figure out what to do with this crap. I did something I don’t often do; I called someone I’ve gone on a few dates with (someone I would normally be trying to impress with my good taste in fine art hung in my living room). I took him back to that emotional backroom, pulled out a flashlight, and showed him what I had stumbled onto. I nervously stood there after showing him a few shelves in that room, feeling vulnerable, wondering if this kind of mess was a deal breaker for him.
He asked a few questions about what I showed him and commented on the difficulty of keeping backrooms clean. He didn’t say anything about the state of the room or the icky nature of the mess I showed him; he didn’t even give tips on how to clean it up. We talked about how I think the mess got there, how overwhelmed I am at the thought of getting that particular corner clean, and how I plan to go about scrubbing it up. He tread gently and softly. We eventually moved back into the living room and talked about other things, but the encounter left me feeling lighter. I don't have to shove everything in the dark recesses of my backroom before letting someone new in.
Well, except that old cardboard cutout of Prince William that represents the crush I've held on to since middle school. No one needs to see that stuff around anymore. ;)