My House Is Always Clean (Just Don't Open The Closets)

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 
Daniela Staerk / Shutterstock

Maybe it’s because I was raised by a neat freak of a mother. Maybe it’s because I’m a typical, order-driven Virgo and am deeply bothered by clutter and chaos. Or maybe, if you ask my husband and kids, I just enjoy driving them crazy with my constant directions to “clean this” and “throw that away.” Whatever the reason, my house is almost always tidy.

But I do have some skeletons in my closet (and I may mean that literally, if you do enough digging – who the hell knows what’s lurking in the depths). Because despite the outward appearance of orderliness around my house, you’re at risk of an avalanche if you open any door or drawer. My closets, cabinets, and pantry are unorganized to the max, always have been, and probably always will be.

When I was growing up and my mom told me to clean my room, I’d gather all my junk into a big pile, push it bulldozer-style into the closet, and shut the door. Voila! My room wasn’t messy, my mom was happy, and I didn’t get in trouble for being a slob. All right, so maybe I had to heave my body weight against the closet door to get it to open and would lose things for months under the mound, but hey, my bedroom was neat.

Fast-forward a few decades and here I am, still completely failing at any sort of behind-the-scenes organization. It’s not quite as bad as my childhood closet, but still shamefully shitty for someone who appears to be — outwardly, anyway — the embodiment of an “everything in its place” philosophy. Every time I open the kitchen cabinet where I store my pots and pans, something falls out in a clattering cacophony of cookware. My wardrobe isn’t so much hung up as it is draped, tossed, and wadded. And if you’re injured, you’d better hope you’re not bleeding too profusely as you spend five minutes rummaging through the nearly empty and/or expired tubes and bottles and boxes in my first-aid drawer.

I have no legit excuse for being such a closeted mess (pun totally intended). It’s laziness, I guess. And I know that if I’d just invest the initial time and effort into getting it whipped into shape, it wouldn’t take nearly as much effort to maintain it. But, I mean…I also know that giving up chocolate would go a long way toward achieving that smokin’ bod I’ve always dreamed of, yet here I am hoarding it in my rumpled heap of an underwear drawer.

If I had what I really wanted, I’d have one of those Marie Kondo-worthy pantries where everything is stacked and aligned with the labels facing out, and a closet where the clothes are pressed and hung and arranged according to season and color. I’d also have someone to clean the rest of my house to my standards, so I’d have the time and energy to devote to organizing the things behind closed doors.

But I don’t — so until I can miraculously afford a maid or a professional organizer (or discover some wondrous method of cramming more hours into the day, both of which are unlikely), I’m going to spend my available resources tidying up the spaces which are more likely to be seen by the general public. Yeah, I care that my shit isn’t pulled together inside and out — it definitely bothers me because I’m neurotic like that — but not enough to stress myself out over keeping it as shipshape as the rest of my house. I just don’t have it in me.

I may have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé, but I get the feeling she doesn’t have to spend any of hers cleaning out the closet.

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