Is There Such a Thing as a Healthy Obsession? Maybe, if Cleaning Products are Involved.

Well, it finally happened. The heating/air conditioning unit in the main salon clonked out. Being it was factory original and the boat was built in 1982, we knew it was coming. The good news: we’re upgrading to something closer to a house unit, rather than a car. So we will be able to set a specific temperature. The bad news: the cost. Thousands. Bleh! I don’t want to think about it.
The guy is slated to arrive between 10 and 11 this morning. Given our experience with boat repair guys, I expect him between three and four next Tuesday.
This didn’t stop me from going into overdrive to pick up around the boat this morning. It started with having Rick clean the return vent the guy would have to access. Now, all the sinks have been scrubbed. Everything is in its designated place. Curtains, drawn out of necessity to block out the strong afternoon sun, have been opened and secure so it looks nicer. This prompted a dusting of a few cobwebs I hadn’t noticed. Project supplies have been gathered together and hidden. Dog toys are in their basket (making Banjo very nervous). Rick has stowed his tools. And on and on.
Intellectually I realize this guy won’t even notice any of this. I doubt he will go home to his wife and gossip about the neatness of our boat. And yet, I worry. I clean. I pick up with a fervor I haven’t had in weeks (since the last visitor).
I grew up in a household where keeping things neat and clean was so ingrained from childhood that I can’t allow visitors, ANY visitors, without a panicked pre-visit clean. I still picture in my head waking to my mom scrubbing a floor prior to going to work. I remember my dad quizzing me on why I would leave a glass on the coffee table if I was done with it. I once had a friend ask what it was like to grow up in a house where magazines were fanned out on the coffee table like in Architectural Digest. I didn’t really understand the question at the time.
I’m not even the neat nick of the family. With my mom’s passing, that torch was passed to one of my sisters. She has cornrows (CORNROWS!) on her carpeting. Perfectly straight rows vacuumed into the carpet. Light colored furniture. White walls. Looks neater. I remember when she went wild and painted the living room a very light, looked white, peach. She worried it was too dark. Me, being the oddball of the family, once painted a spare bedroom such a bright orange that a glow emanated into the hallway. Took a long while to live that one down.
My oldest sister got out early, marrying young. Not that she has a messy house or anything. She has a normally neat home. I don’t think it’s an obsession. Good for her. I left home young, too, but as a child I always looked for my parents’ approval. So I think it was too late for me by high school graduation.
Rick has learned to live with it as I have learned to live with his habit of leaving things lying around. For a while. He knows he has a week, maybe two at the outside, before I can’t take it and will start gathering things up. The issue is I will put something “away” never to remember where, rendering it lost forever (or at a point when it’s now useless). I once put airline vouchers “in a safe place” that took several months to uncover. Luckily they were still good. I also once threw out a stack of Rick’s birthday cards months after his birthday. Unfortunately, I did not open and remove the gift cards inside. That went over well. I like to envision a down on his luck guy searching through a dumpster and finding those cards, able to eat and buy some new clothes. I think Rick picks up now out of desperation so things aren’t lost forever.
The one exception for me is tools. I spent many years being blamed for Rick losing a tool. Now, I refuse to touch them. I will purposely divert my eyes from them (to keep my obsessiveness in check) while badgering him to put his tools away; but I refuse to touch them. Interestingly, he still has difficulty finding them. Hmmmm. Wonder why? Could it be it wasn’t me all those years? Could it be my dad’s organized tools hanging on the wall (with an outline for each tool, no less) is a good solution? Well, that’s an impossibility on the boat. Sigh.
Ooh! I’ve got to go. I just realized I forgot to organize my underwear drawer. I doubt the HVAC guy will need to look in there, but better to be safe than sorry. After all, he’s only a half hour late, so he could be here any day now.