I threw a dinner party for a friend a couple weeks ago and learned something. As I was filling up the dishwasher with dirty dishes as we partied along, throwing away wine bottles and clearing the table and the counter tops, a friend remarked that I should just sit down and enjoy the conversation. I thought I was enjoying the conversation and contributing as appropriate, while allowing for our environment to be clean and clear of clutter so we could continue the party into the night and morning unencumbered. To my friend’s comment, another friend responded that I was just being obsessive compulsive.
I had never heard those words used as a description for me, and I don’t believe this to be true, on top of the fact that my friend throws words and judgement like that around. But nonetheless, I never miss an opportunity to check myself, and maybe I am obsessive about that.
Regardless, last night I threw another dinner party. For the first time ever, I didn’t check the dishwasher and didn’t realize it was already filled and I noticed it just as the guests were arriving and I was looking to fill it with the pots and pans and dishes I had used to make dinner. Argh!
I resigned myself to the fact that I would just rinse everything I had used, and we would use, and just leave them in the sink. As the night wore on, something strange happened, and I wasn’t even consciously aware that it was happening. One of the guests got up and started to clear the dishes. Then another one did and I continued to carry on a conversation with yet another one, almost oblivious of what was going on. One of the guests tried to fill the dishwasher with them but noticed it was filled and asked me if they were clean or dirty. My answer was, no worries, just leave them on the counter, since the sink was already filled by then. And leave them they did.
As the night wore on, the dishes and glasses piled up around the counter and started spilling over onto the dinning room table, which was okay since by then we had moved into the living room. And as the night turned into morning, and it was getting time for the guests to leave and me to turn in, I didn’t even give a thought to cleaning up and went straight to bed. I can’t remember the last time I had done that, if ever at all.
When I woke up this morning, instead of being horrified at the mess I found on the coffee table, the dinning room table and the whole kitchen, I smiled and thought about how much fun we had had, and I relived moment after moment. With each bottle I picked up, I remember what we were thinking and saying as we opened them, namely, “are we really opening up another bottle?” And with each different dish I remember how good the soup was, or the main course, or the desert or… and what we talked about, laughed about, argued about, loved about those moments…
I enjoyed the mess so much that I stopped cleaning it and sat down at the table with my computer to write about it in the middle of the mess. And here I sit, in the middle of a happy mess. Sometimes life changes and we don’t even realize it. Sometimes life was always good but we “cleaned” it up to make it “right,” or “better,” when there wasn’t anything wrong with it in the first place. Or, we sometimes wipe up all the life and clear it all away thinking we are making room for the life to come but don’t realize, THIS is LIFE!
Well, this has been quite an interesting morning, and as much fun and as enlightening as writing this has been, I’ve got to stop this and go clean up this mess. 🙂