There is something to be said for not knowing yourself. The lesser-touted quality of self-unawareness has its benefits. For example, if I was less hyper-aware (and less a product of parents with Too Many Degrees), I’d probably be a bit happier. I won’t say ‘ignorance is bliss’ for fear of throwing too many cliches at you too early into this post, but as long as I know you’re thinking it…..
Which brings me to say, I’ve noticed a pattern in my New York life. I can tell when I’m upset about something or too rundown or too hyped up because it manifests in my kitchen. The place of so much joy for me and others becomes a direct representation of what’s happening in my heart. The word I’m looking for is fester.
I am a tidy person. My house is clean and things have their place. I don’t ordinarily let dishes sit in the sink overnight, with the exception of a pan or two that I can justify soaking. But when I’m having a hard go, cereal bowls and water glasses are allowed to percolate in that aluminum rectangle for days on end. Once I realized this pattern, it began to be a reason in itself to be upset or put-upon. I imagined the scum covering my forks and spoons sliming over my head as well. My brain sponge smelled like mildew. My spinal drain was clogged. (This, I discovered, is how cycles begin. And I don’t mean wash cycles.)
I won’t bore you with tales of recent life difficulties — mainly because they’re the same ones as before — but I will tell you my dishes aren’t getting washed. One pan lately reached a full six days in my sink. I relay this information not to disgust you or embarrass my parents, but to express the full amount of stress inflicted by last week. Just so you know what I’m dealing with.
There’s something almost flagrant about a pile of dirty dishes sitting there, staring saucily at me as I drag around the house, getting ready for the next draining day. It’s offensive. The nerve those knives have! It feels like a jeering crowd reminding me of all the things I didn’t finish.
One great side effect of having a direct dish-to-emotion metaphor is that I’ve noticed it goes both ways. If I’m having a bad day and I do my dishes before I fall asleep, I feel better. It perks me up. And so, a year and a half into our journey, I’ve learned not to blame the forks and spoons but to view them as an impartial barometer for my mood.
After all, it’s not the flatware’s fault.