Yellowstone National Park.
As a kid, I tried to learn from watching adults. One of my aunts divorced in her early thirties and never remarried. At one point she rented an apartment from a landlord who was very sensitive to noise and that experience had a lasting impression on her. When I visited her as a teenager I was aware of the order in her life and that my very existence could disrupt it - my things in her space, the noise from my music, etc.
I probably don't meet the clinical definition of OCD, but I think I have been hurling myself toward it for a long time. Before I became homeless, I lived alone for almost seven years. My kitchen had drawer organizers, I rotated my dishes, glasses and flatware, and nothing lived on my counters except for the coffee maker, coffee grinder, and toaster. Guests would ask me if my refrigerator was new when they opened it. A woman who I interviewed to clean my condo, asked if she could move in with me. Occasionally, I would leave a dirty coffee cup in my sink when I went to work just to test my OCD status. Could I leave a mess? Not really. But, the thing is, when you live alone, you have to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher because no one else is going to do it for you. (And, if you don’t live alone and you leave your coffee cup in the sink, you’re a dick.)
When I was a kid, my bedroom, like most kids’ bedrooms, was a mess – clothes, athletic equipment, schoolbooks, stuffed animals, etc. were strewn everywhere. I hated cleaning my room for the same reason that I hated helping my mother clean the house: everything had to be put away before I could dust and vacuum. However, I knew where my things belonged in my room, but in order to clean the house I had to remove my mother’s possessions from each room and transport them to my parents’ bedroom. I would take her things out of the living room and she would move them to the dining room. I would take her things out of the dining room and she would move them to the TV room. It was maddening! When I returned from a high-school year abroad in England my father acknowledged that I wasn't the “chief” source of the mess in the house. Thank you. Can I mow the lawn while you clean the house?
Each of us has differing standards of order and cleanliness, so when any two people cohabitate their differences become apparent. When my father or parents would visit me in Providence, a trail of their detritus would lead from my front door to the kitchen and living room. Usually, without saying anything, I would slowly move as many of their things to the guest bedroom, trying not to twitch in the process, and trying to remember that the challenge of living with disorder (by my standard) for a short time is psychologically better for me than living in alone in my a constantly controlled environment.
My condo was a 2,100 square foot loft construction with one bathroom. The guest bedroom had a door, but the master didn't, so once guests emerged there was no privacy for any of us, the space notwithstanding. BOB is 160-180 square foot box with one bathroom. The master bedroom has a door, and the guest bedroom is a bunk above the cockpit. Obviously, there is neither space nor privacy.
Kim and Kate were my guests in BOB from the 15th of July until this morning. I enjoyed their company immensely, but unbeknownst to them, I also enjoyed their presence challenging my control issues. I struggle on my own with BOB: in order to change the linens on the master bed, everything has to be relocated to the dinette; and, in order to do the laundry, the dinette has to be disassembled to access the storage compartment for the detergent and fabric softener. In BOB, order and cleanliness can only be created by creating disorder. Sometimes I am paralyzed by it because there is so much stuff out of place. Adding two more adults into such a small space meant that EVERYTHING was out of place ALL OF THE TIME. But, I adapted. Twitch, twitch. And, that was good for me.
I’ve always been a pretty good traveler: I adapt to culture, language, time, weather, altitude, currency, etc. differences relatively easily. I adapt to these changes because I expect to be out of my element (no control) and therefore I know I have to adapt. Learning to adapt in my own environment by surrendering control is a new experience, and learning anything new is good. Twitch, twitch.
Beartooth Scenic Byway.
Glacier National Park.
Siobhan M. Knox
In May 2016, I bought a five ton, 25’ long Class C motorhome because I like to drive, I like to travel, and it’s more fun and less expensive than living in a hotel. No prior RV experience was required, and I had none: perfect. I’m writing a book about my adventures which will come to an end when I get a job. The dogs will be sad.