Clean Traveler

Geez, Louise, I’m tired. I don’t even know a Louise but I’ve referred to her for years. Why am I tired? I’m 72 hours away from boarding an airplane and traveling puts me in a tizzy. Well, not the traveling, but the leaving, the preparing, the cleaning, the getting things in order before I travel.

Prior to every trip, I prepare my home and my life as if I’ll never return to it. Am I crazy? I do it to myself every time. I want everything in order. I want beds made, bills paid, dry cleaning dropped off, bathrooms scrubbed, items returned to stores, credits issued, filing done, magazines sorted/recycled, laundry washed/dried/folded/hung, floors swept, flowers dead-headed, fridge shelves wiped clean, rugs vacuumed, burned out light bulbs replaced, socks darned, blankets knitted, the homeless fed, healthcare reformed, everything in its place. Every time. Every trip. Without fail.

My motive is morbid. If I were to die in a car accident, plane crash, or drowning, I don’t want my family and friends to have to come in and clean my house. Not really, but really. Along with leaving behind a legacy of wonderful virtues, I’d also like to leave a clean house in my wake. Honestly, it’s more than wanting a clean house. It’s crossing things off of my procrastinated list. I’ve admitted to procrastinating. It’s no secret. So I use travel to create deadlines for myself to get things done that have been put off for too long. Here are my repeat offenders:

Returns – dread doing them. Before we leave on a trip, I force myself to take/ship back unwanted merchandise.

My closet – the pile of clothes in the floor. Before we leave on a trip, I hang and fold everything and organize by color leaving my closet looking like an upscale boutique.

Refrigerator – the unrecognized produce in the back of drawer two. I pull everything out, condiments, jellies, coffee creamers, leftover containers, shelf by shelf and drawer by drawer. After cleaning the blank shelf/drawer with a warm, soapy cleaning rag, and wiping down each jar, I replace the items that will cheer upon my arrival back home. As for the food that won’t keep, it gets disposed into the trash and the container recycled or washed for another use.

Email inbox – the ignored, low-priority messages finally get answered prior to my departure. Sometimes I’m unable to complete this task completely before leaving the house and bend my own rules a bit. I use airplane “offline” time to respond to emails, delete expired coupons, and clean up my inbox. When I’m reconnected to wi-fi, the swoosh sound settles my soul as my pending messages find IP permission.

Thankfully, I’m not a million miles air traveler so these rituals only take place quarterly in my home. If I traveled more often, I suppose I’d resort to staying on top of these things monthly, weekly or even daily. Ugh. Who does that? I travel just enough to keep my house in order, my mind rested, and my body bathing-suit conscience.

There. I confessed. Am I weird? Are you weird? Do you practice healthy, procrastinated ritual cleaning? Should we form a group? Do some people actually leave on a trip with clothes on the floor, returns piled up, inbox overflowing, and expired food awaiting their return? Should they form a group?

In the meantime, the clock is ticking, my list awaits and I’ve got a plane to catch. For ten glorious days I’ll read on the beach, drink overpriced resort drinks, rest beneath palm trees, and chat poolside with fellow foreigners. Who knows? I may finally meet Louise! Geez.


14 thoughts on “Clean Traveler

  1. I love the way you wrote this! It made Mike and me laugh out loud (LOL). John’s comment also made us LOL !! We can identify, but maybe not to the extent of cleaning the bathrooms…in case we don’t return….now I’ll be thinking about that 😦
    God has given you many gifts , Natalie! Thanks for sharing them with us.

  2. I loved this! I have the exact same sickness! It just makes me feel better. If you form the group, I’ll be in it:)

  3. It’s not just the wanting it all done for the morbid thought of if something bad were to happen. For me, it’s the not wanting to think about what I left behind to do while I am on vacation. Plus, I love coming home and having at least a day to not worry about all the things I didn’t get done before I left on vacation.

  4. Miss Natalie – I do the same exact thing. When I was a little girl, every time we came home from vacation we walked into a clean, warm and inviting home. I never remembered my mother doing what you described before leaving, but I always knew it was wonderful when we walked in upon our return. I finally realized a few years back that our babysitter, Miss Marie, whom we affectionately referred to as “Misery,” must have been hired to come in to do the job while we were away. So I’d been killing myself before leaving for trips so that if I died during the trip, I wouldn’t be remembered for being a slob because that’s what I thought my mother had done all along. Who knew? The cheat! Great post – hope you are well.

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