Try as I might, I’ve been completely unable to make myself open my laptop and get extra work done on the weekend. Not just this weekend, but every weekend since the beginning of February. The good thing is it’s a sign that I am managing things well enough during the week, without spillages that gnaw into my weekend. But on the downside, there’s a lot of “extra” things I put off for “the weekend” when I am “free from work” but when the time comes, I slip into a domestic bubble and it’s getting harder and harder to extricate myself from it as the weekend progresses. I slip further into that deadly combination of domestic bliss and sloth that makes time bend and go almost convex. Slowing everything down to the point where every second is apparent. Tick, tock, slowwww.
Saturdays have been mostly dedicated to pottering about the house. Changing sheets and pillow cases, straightening sofas and cushions out, dusting neglected corners, refilling money plant bottles with water, re-stocking a week’s worth of glasses and mugs to their assigned place. And it’s in the delightfully slow moments between these chores that I realise suddenly, that I’ve become quite relaxed around the house. I obsess less, I no longer fret over tidiness on a daily basis, choosing to make a morning of it once a week and be done with it, rather than drive myself batty every single day.
To give you an example, at this very moment, there’s a pile of documents (everything from bills to lease agreements, IT returns, travel documents etc etc etc) on my dining table that has been steadily growing every day. It bothers me every time I look at it, but clearly not enough to do something about it on my own. And here’s the big change: I don’t take myself to be solely responsibility for keeping a clean home.
You see, I share a home with someone who has grown up having mother/father/the help constantly pick up after him. The concept of everything having a place of its own, and the need to return said things back to their designated place was alien to him. Until he met me. He ridiculed my anal tendencies, but always revelled in the benefits of a neat and tidy home.
For many years I took on the responsibility of keeping the home clean. Because thats how I like it. The Type A personality in me didn’t trust the hugsband could try and learn to do things around the house, because he’s never been taught to do them before. So naturally he’s gotten very used to things being spic and span around him. And of course he thinks it all happens by MAGIC! Until one day I just stopped going the extra mile. I no longer pick up his crap if I can help it. The pile of documents for example, require him to sort through, decide what to keep and discard, before they can be filed away. And I have promised myself not to touch it until he does his bit. Some time ago this would have driven me up the wall, to the point of just doing it all myself, but I like to think of this as some weird kind of peaceful coexistence.
Cooking leisurely meals has become so rare around here. So I take the time on weekends to stock up on veggies and fruit, and try and fix us at least two meals that satisfy the urge to cook, not just eat good food. Considering the laptop hasn’t come on on weekends the past few weeks, I’ve been basking in the luxury of extra long naps, getting comfy under a blanket (with the AC turned on!) with a book. The phone is mostly ignored, all whatsapp groups muted. And before I know it the weekend is done. Hugsband and I usually round it off with a drink or a meal out on Sunday night, if we’re not feeling too lazy to get out, but even that is an effort. Staying in, is so in with us at the moment.
I’ve gone from bing completely disinterested in anything domestic, to discovering to my absolute surprise that deep inside me was this completely domestic homebody who wanted to play house down to the last T, to going full powder batshit crazy trying to be a full-time freelancer with no time for anything beyond basic domesticity, to once again revelling in the simple life that allows me to dip my feet into the domestic life, without letting it consume me.
Weekends, the last few months, have taught me to let it go. If get a grip has been the refrain for most of last year, I’m slowly learning to loosen that grip. One weekend at a time. And it’s been a humbling reminder of how what “order” can be like, and how much of it is and isn’t in my control. Whether the mess on my dining table, an offhand comment that ticks me off, a sexist conversation, an annoying piece of news, the pressure to socialise.
Weekends, the last few months, have reminded me that “having it all” is not for everyone. Certainly not for me. That there is a special kind of relaxation in going with the natural rhythm of my body, my breath, my inclinations and in giving myself the permission to break the routine to indulge – in sleep, in cooking, in reading, in walks, in cycle rides, in late night music hopping, in dreaming.
And slowly, gently, in the beautiful way that change always works, a new order has emerged. The little conscious steps I have been making towards slowing down again, cutting out the noise and focusing on the important bits, has undone a few rigid Type A traits that used to once define me.
While in my life and routine it manifests in enjoying leisurely weekends away from my laptop, it has also brought a new kind of mellowness in me. A little less aggravated by the littler irritants – people’s comments, annoying clients, the spotty Internet, the breaking of routine and set patterns – and when I am aggravated, moving through it has become easier, faster than before. Stewing over the small stuff. In disagreements, I am learning every day, to say my piece honestly and move on. I’m trying all the time to cut myself some slack, consciously remind myself that only so much is in my hands, and leave the rest to go the way it’s meant to. It’s made me a little confident and added some grace to walking away or out of situations I don’t want to be in.
Change has always distressed me. Even the slightest challenge, smoothing rough edges in my personality, being open and adjusting easily to altering situations, teaching myself a little humility, building patience, slowing down – none of this has ever been palatable, fun or even remotely easy to do. I’ve shied away from it for the most part of my life. But something about this second round of domestication, with these minor changes, is making me see a side of myself I didn’t know existed.
2012-me might have looked at present-me in shock, cracked the whip and restored order the way she knew it to be. But 2012-me doesn’t have the experience present-me does. She doesn’t realise that order is a faceless, fluid, shapeshifting, quick-to-vaporise thing. Rarely do you ever control order. Most of the time, order controls you. And it controls everything around you. Including the way time ticks by. Sometimes making it rush, sometimes bending it down to near-standstill. Reminding you to laze underneath that blanket a while longer. Allowing you the luxury to read that extra chapter. Telling you that dinner can wait, that the sheets don’t need changing right this minute, and that it’s okay to eat buttered buns for dinner today.
There is so much spoken about unwinding, disconnecting, decompressing and I know it does take effort in these times of hyper connectivity, hyper productivity and what not. But it is possible. And it is easily done.
I’m learning every day that order is constantly changing. There is no joy in being on top of it all, all the time. Loosen the grip, let it go, be responsible for yourself wholly, and be mindful for the way you feel and act. I’m learning to accept change. That in itself is a big change for me. And you know what? It ain’t so bad.