It was Saturday—cleaning day—a time I use each week to collect my thoughts via the repetitive motion of putting things in their proper place.
It was time to clean my bathroom.
What does a towel say about who you are? Mine are a mix of old, beat-up wannabes that have no style or any inclination they ever did. They’re a mix of colors, ages and textures; brands and sizes that range from the useless hand towel, to the oversized, striped beach-blanket. The short and messy of it is that my towels look like they belong to a man (or perhaps the cliché of one); a man who lives on the fringes of town, you know, on the wrong side of the railroad tracks.
It was then that I realized an outsider hadn’t seen my towels in some time. I don’t entertain much in the way of towels, and I guess I’ve never brought them out to lunch with me. But there they were. Hanging in effigy as I scratched my head and wondered when I had become so shamelessly lazy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my towels. But I was considering my boyfriend seeing them for the first time and wondering what he would think about all these frayed edges.
In an effort to be the perfect host and girlfriend, I concluded this just wouldn’t do. Then I started thinking about all the other stuff that might also inflict relationship damage. Are my sheets new enough? Do these decorative pillows accurately communicate my need for unconditional love? So what if I don’t have any matching socks. I don’t even like socks!
Does any of this matter?
I stood inside Bed Bath & Beyond, contemplating the Beyond part for a few extra moments. The towering shelves made my heart beat faster as I looked up to see items of the domicile spread out over too many shelves. I feared that one of them might fall on top of me—would I survive?
I walked out. No use having an anxiety attack over the simple task of purchasing new towels for my bathroom.
I walked next door to Marshalls where the shelves were more manageable. After comparing the quality of Turkish and Egyptian cottons, I settled on some no-name brand that was the proper shade of gray. A savvy shopper would never allow emotional stress to sway a purchase; but my mood was stuck in the middle of one of those self-realization moments where you evaluate the black and white of things. So gray looked really good.
In some ways, confronting my towels was like closing a very long and single chapter of my life. When you’ve been single for as long as I have, you get comfortable with the idea that towels don’t matter by virtue of their privacy. I myself am an extremely private person. I like secrets. I like mystery. I like leaving a party when I feel like it if I’m feeling tired. And I like not caring about my towels or my dirty laundry that too often prefers to become an area rug.
I would like to say that this introspection went deep enough to deny the fresh cotton of department stores and my need to feel unabashed by my very, very personal space. But alas, I am only human and towels tend to look best in pairs.