Tidiness by Tasha Halpert

New Home 1          Once upon a time it was quite usual for a household to have someone who was paid to help out. this person might live in or come in to work there during the day. There were not as many conveniences as we have today, and my mother was happy to have someone to help with the household tasks as well as my care and do what she couldn’t always manage to get done.

I don’t remember how old I was when Emily came to live with us. I believe I was around two or three to help my mother around the house and also look after me. She also taught me a great deal about being tidy. I loved her dearly and she loved me as well. I still have many pictures she took of me when I was small. We did many things together and had lots of fun. When I was eight she left to get married. I missed her very much. I remember thinking if I was very good and kept my room the way she liked, maybe she would come back.

I believe Emily’s encouragement inspired my fondness for the tidiness I still practice today. I can remember her encouraging me to put my toys in a row, lining them up neatly. Later, when I was older I enjoyed putting my doll house in order, arranging and rearranging the furniture and putting the dolls that lived there where they belonged. As an only child until I was eight and a half, I had to make use of my imagination to entertain myself. Both Emily and my mother encouraged me to be creative. I made the stories and plays I wrote into small books, carefully sewed together. Rebuses–stories with pictures for some of the words were favorites to make.

Today I also prefer order because it helps me find things. If I know where I put something I can easily find what I need when I need it. Toward that end I try to put whatever I use often back in its designated space as soon as I am finished with it. Because I feel it is such a waste of time to have to hunt for things, I have special places to put important items like car keys, eye glasses, pocketbooks, shoes, and so on. I also make lists of what I need to do, another form of making and keeping order. Being organized is an aspect of tidiness. A difficulty with this is that not everyone is equally tidy.

Stephen, unlike me needs to have things where he can see them or put his hand on them easily. This leads to piles and untidy heaps of items that to me are all higgly piggly with no sense of order. It also makes it difficult for Stephen to see what he needs when he needs it, so that I often have to help him to locate items that get buried. He does not deliberately bury items, it just happens that there are too many things of immediate interest in one place. Still, after 38 years of being together I have learned to relax and allow for his way of keeping things available. At the same time, I rejoice that I can usually find what I want relatively quickly.