I'm the type of person who really needs a balance between the social and the anti-social. In addition to a slew of college-entrance exams, and in the hopes of somehow finding the magic cure to not knowing who we were, a whole host of personality tests were administered to us during our formidable teenage years. The lack of accuracy of these tests is best demonstrated by the experience of a friend of mine. She took a lengthy test that was meant to pinpoint careers that fit her personality. Her result? Mortician. What has she really done? She's traveled the world, lived in dozens of places, and works in marketing. In my own case, no test was ever able to tell me whether I was more inclined to be around people or whether I was better on my own.
Last week was the classic example of this carefully crafted equilibrium being entirely thrown for a loop. For about five or six days running, I was rarely home. Each day, I had a different social event to go to and different people to meet. The engagements ranged from a small birthday dinner for a close friend to a surprise party where I had been asked to appear as a pilgrim for the guest of honor. Two things resulted from this: exhaustion and a very messy apartment.
I live in a one-bedroom apartment. Even in its cleanest state, it still is small. The morning after my last social event, I woke up with barely a clear square foot on my floor or a clear place to sit on my couch. In the interests of getting to work on time, I forwent contemplating the state of the place. I turned on the car--a must-do for us in northern New England, I got dressed, I made coffee. I was half a minute away from walking out the door to head to work when the phone rang.
It was my landlord. I had announced about three weeks before that this would be my last month in this apartment. After a long search, I found a new place that addressed some of the shortcomings of my current living space. He said he was going to advertise the apartment, and he would let me know if anyone wanted to see it.
And someone did. That afternoon.
Suddenly, I had an "Oh, shit" moment on my hands. I hardly knew what to do. The apartment was in no state to be shown by anyone's imagination, unless the purpose of the visit was to feature it on a TV show with a "don't try this at home" theme. I had no choice but to call my boss and explain that I would be late.
I spent two and a half hours cleaning. You wouldn't think that you would need that kind of time for a one-bedroom place, but it had devolved to such a state that under normal circumstances, I probably would have divided the work over several days. You also notice several things that would have passed before, but to the landlord's eye, may have been signs of a bad tenant. In order to get this done, I actually had to change back into what I wore to bed--not wanting to wreck a nicely-put together work outfit. Because of an ambitious plan to clean up a classroom at work, my broom and mop were not present, so I had to use a brush and dustpan to get the bits and pieces off of the tile in the kitchen, and then, pull out a replacement sponge for the mop I didn't have and clean the floor on my hands and knees. I didn't stop the whole time, and I probably dropped about 5 pounds in the process.
In the end, for the first time, the apartment looked like a showplace. The landlord noticed nothing amiss. And, I had a whole lot more time this weekend to myself than I had originally planned for.
I probably wouldn't have turned out to be the "spontaneous" type if there had been a test for that.