I like to get messy too

Anna has been hiding her dirty laundry.

Every morning lately she’s been melting down when it comes time to get dressed for school. “Mom, I can’t find any pants!” she yells, like I’m keeping them from her. Usually she finds some, never mind that they are too short and seasonally inappropriate – or on the third day of wear. The important thing is that she learns to fend for herself, right?

In the evening, while I’m watching reruns and folding laundry, everyone ends up with a stack of clean clothes. Except Anna. Without fail, her pile will have just a pair of socks and a t-shirt while everybody else’s clothes tower over me. Against my better judgment, I checked her closet last week – maybe she shoved her dirty things in there. But no, the closet was relatively clean. I should have worried, but I didn’t.

Anna has always been hopelessly, even hilariously, disorganized. When she was a toddler, she would fill every available tote bag with her toys and hang them all on her toy stroller, carting it all over the house. We used to call her the bag lady. Last winter, one of my new year’s resolutions was to help Anna learn to organize her toys. I bought her a bunch of cute little colorful bins, and made chalkboard labels for each one. She had so much fun labeling and organizing her toys. It worked great for about two weeks, and then we promptly forgot all about organizing. Honestly, I’m happy when the toys make it into any bin at all. I don’t mind if she makes a mess when she’s playing.

So this morning, I was trying to find a few more items to fill up my laundry basket. I wandered into her room, thinking that I would grab her pajamas from the floor. Then I noticed a bin on the floor by the window. It had a pair of dirty leggings in it, along with some doll clothes. So, I grabbed the leggings and peeked in another bin. It looked like it was full of trash. I pushed the trash aside and underneath I found a bunch of dirty nightgowns. Then I turned and noticed a gift bag, full of dirty t-shirts and even a piece of my jewelry!

Needless to say, I am really glad that I checked her bins. God only knows where all of her toys are. And I was just about to buy her some new pants.

 

Once I hated a girl

I hated a girl once. I almost got eaten alive by my hate for her, until at long last we parted ways forever.

We worked together for two years. I was 23, just out of college. She, too, was 23, just starting out, like me. We first met at orientation on our shared first day. Looking back on it, we had more similarities than differences.

She was startlingly beautiful. She had the kind of looks that made you want to stop and stare at her. She had long silky black curls, large eyes, delicate features. She was small, but strong. She exercised religiously, ate nothing. Her body was incredibly sexy. She had tons of cute clothes. She was Jewish — the real kind, not my sorta kind. She was unattached, no husband, no boyfriend, no girlfriend. She lived in the city with roommates.

She talked, at length, on her phone in her cubicle across from mine. She talked about her exercise schedule, about her dates, about her trips to museums by herself. She flirted shamelessly with my boss.

Now, let me explain something. I flirted with my boss, too. He was just a little older, funny, and hot. But I did it guiltily. I was already engaged. Back then faithfulness was a primary concern of mine. Plus, this was my boss, not hers. She was just removed enough to be able to do as she liked. They bonded over workout tales.

Everything about her ate at my soul. She was the me I wanted to be in so many ways. And she was interesting to me. I wanted her as a friend, as a more-than friend. At the time I didn’t, couldn’t, know it. I only felt, I couldn’t think. My jealousy of her, my envy for what she had made me hate everything about her.

Did she hate me, too? I think so. I think we both exuded a vibe that repelled the other. Perhaps she was similarly attracted to me. Maybe she wanted what I had: a fiancée, a close working relationship with the hot boss, security. Who knows?

Have you ever truly hated someone? It feels like I imagine it would to fall into quicksand. It’s annihilating. Sooner or later, it comes down to an ultimatum: you or it. And if you don’t want to end up in a therapist’s chair, you’ve got to make the call. You.

Just when I’d finally realized that things had to change, she left the company for a better job. It was providential. Once she was out of my life, I felt instantly better. And honestly, I’ve never had a reaction like that to anyone since. If I did, I hope that I would recognize it and confront it. Hatred is a dark dead-end street in a bad neighborhood.