That didn’t take long.
My artist wife spent 10 years without cleaning her art studio in our suburban, prairie bungalow. Her studio, the size of a living room, fills a quarter of our basement.
Paint-covered floors, canvasses stacked everywhere, and piles of paint supplies in the middle of the room were common behind the perpetually closed door. As sure as the sun rises, that studio would be a mess.
Yet, it took her the time of one my strength-training workouts to clean the place.
Seriously. One hour.
It was a Monday morning. As I sat down on my workout bench in the room adjacent to her studio, I heard her soft footsteps coming down the stairs. Not wanting to interrupt a set, I paused for a moment thinking she might be wanting to chat with me. When she passed by the door and I heard the familiar light-switch flick in her studio, I started my set.
An hour later, I wrapped up my workout and headed for the shower to rinse off.
Before I got there, I noticed the light was on in her studio. I poked my head in to steal a kiss. She wasn’t there.
But I was there; and I was speechless. I had dreamt of this day. The studio wasn’t a mess. I could see the floor again. I could walk more than 12 inches without stepping on something painful. I could see clearly that everything had a place… and, more importantly, everything was in its place.
Today, apparently, had been the day. The day my dream came true. She had cleaned her studio!
I stepped back out of the studio and shut off the light.
My cheeks might have been streaked with an unusual moistness, but I won’t admit to tears. Probably sweat from the workout.
Stopping for a moment, I needed to collect myself. I was stunned. My cheeks might have been streaked with an unusual moistness, but I won’t admit to tears. Probably sweat from the workout.
Following my shower, I was still in a state of disbelief. I returned to the studio and blankly stared. Speechless. Various thoughts were swirling in my mind and clearly debating each other.
I wasn’t sure whether I had been speechless because it was tidy for the first time in a decade or that, after a decade, it took less than an hour to tidy it.
Seriously though. If it didn’t take that long to tidy her art studio, then why wasn’t it done more often?
Of course, I already knew the answer. I’d always known the answer: Artists, my artist included, work in weird and wonderful ways. For many, mess is best. From the chaos bursts forth creativity.
Ultimately, that’s why — while it was my dream to see that studio cleaned up — I had accepted the mess and, as much as I wanted to, why I never pressured her to clean it up.
But seriously. One hour?