I bought Marie Kondo’s tidying up book a couple of years ago and started folding t-shirts, socks and underwear according to her guidance. But a week later, I stopped. In the meantime, she has made it big on TV, and my drawers are a mess. Socks gone wild!
As I recall, Marie wants us to spend time with our stuff, folding and tucking, and thanking them for performing well. It has been quite a few years since my underwear was involved in anything involving performance excellence, unless you count bladder control.
She also encourages us to get rid of stuff that doesn’t spark joy. Honestly, none of my stuff sparks joy. It’s just stuff – stuff I either need or want, and it resides in my home. I’m careful about not having too much stuff, and I regularly toss or donate, but if I purged on the basis of joy, I’d have a mostly empty house.
But here’s the rub – I do have obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and it wouldn’t be all that hard to push me off the ledge into the dark abyss of tidydom. Under my careful tutelage, records, CDs and spices are all in alphabetical order. I take my vitamins and meds in alphabetical order. A for aspirin, C for CoQ10, D for vitamin D, F for fish oil, L for Lisinopril and M for multivitamin.
Dale keeps asking what the W is for. There is no W. It’s M, and he knows it. There are days he does not spark joy, but I don’t make him leave, do I?
And yes, it’s Dale, who sort of keeps me within the boundaries of normal. He is the moral opposite of Marie. Dale doesn’t believe in the magic of tidying up. I wouldn’t call him a slob or hoarder. That’s a bit harsh. Let’s just say he’s differently organized. Mess-tolerant. Stuff-friendly.
But because we are married, and people who stay married have learned to compromise, I’ve lowered the bar and somewhat willingly sink toward his standards of cleanliness and order. It’s just too hard to fight about it. Dale makes an effort to meet me in the middle. The house is never as tidy as I would like it, but it’s not the frat house of his dreams, either.
So, I don’t know. Is Marie married or living with someone? That can’t be easy. In our 40-year marriage, we’ve found it is sometimes hard to find joy in each other, let alone each other’s stuff. We’ve reached a détente of sorts. It’s like whatever, do what you want, keep what you want. Let’s just love each other until this party is over.
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.