Monday 11 November 2019

Chaos meets fear

I like order. In my perfect life I would know every single piece of clothing in my closet, every last item of food in the fridge and pantry, and every last one of the animals that live with us on the farm. They all would have names, and we would only replace one when the other one is close to death, with just enough time left to teach the new one everything it needs to know. I would get up every morning at the same time, write insightful articles and books that help other people in a way that reassures me that I have found my purpose, I would do yoga every morning and be calm and peaceful throughout it all. I would work 4 days a week, enough to have the social contact my introverted self won't get otherwise, but not too much to leave me exhausted. We would only have guests over when I'm well rested and prepared, the house is properly cleaned and styled, the menu is carefully planned and the She Shed has a nice welcome basket and a warm fire waiting for the guest. 

The reality is drastically different.
Chaos is the theme of my life, which was never my choice, but simply happened. It's partly due to my job and life itself, but largely because my husband thrives on chaos. He is messy, he is a collector, he makes appointments and agrees to visits without telling me, and he loves company. 
Let's take last week as an example: On Monday, Teddy needed surgery because an injury on her leg had gotten infected and needed to be cleaned out right away. After work I picked her up from the vet with a cone, a long list of instructions, meds, and the prospect of a few difficult weeks ahead of us. 
On Tuesday, I had an orientation shift at a clinic I have never worked at before. I didn't know where it was, what the equipment looked like, or how challenging it would be. All I knew is that the drive was 100 km each way, and that I slept badly because I woke up every hour to check on Teddy. 

That same evening we expected an overnight guest. I had invited him myself (a decision influenced by the 3 glasses of wine the Friday before, when I had a weekend off ahead of me, was relaxed, and didn't know anything about my dog's surgery yet), which meant that I had to buy ingredients for dinner and get the Shed Shed/guest house ready. I know what you are going to say: "What about your husband? Can't he help?" And yes, he always offers to "take care of everything". But while I don't think I'm overly picky, I have standards that are higher than what he can offer. For example, I like to have fresh sheets on the bed when someone stays over, while Rich's approach is more along the lines of "it will do". I also like to have mood lights on, a nice dinner ready, and the house vacuumed and, if possible, mopped. 
So, back to Tuesday. After an initially uncertain but overall successful day at work, where I managed to buy my dinner stuff during lunch because the supermarket was right across from it (score!), I came home. The guys were out (I was relived), Teddy seemed really good (doubly relieved), and I got the She Shed ready and dinner on the way by the time Rich and our guest arrived. They are old friends, and to make a long story short, they had a very merry time. 

I went to bed early, because I was facing another challenging day at work the next day. I was booked into the fluoroscopy room, which takes live images (=like a movie) of special procedures. I had worked in that capacity before, but not in 3 years, and never at the new site. Not knowing the protocol, doctors, and some of the procedures is daunting to say the least, and my night was cut short by the raucous laughter coming from the living room, my troubled sleep due to listening to Teddy, and the worry about the next day. 
But, once again, everything went well! I was thrilled, and after driving the 100 km back and meeting Rich at the vet to get Teddy checked out, I was looking forward to having the evening off. 
Or so I thought. 
I called Rich on my last coffee break, around 2 pm. "I'm not gonna cook tonight," I announced, already looking forward to an early night, eating junk food in bed and watching the new Wentworth.

"That's fine," he responded. "Paul is cooking."
I spit out the sip of water I had just taken. 
"What??" I sputtered. "He's still here??"
"So it seems", my darling husband said, and I could see the invisible shrug through the phone line. The shrug symbolizes everything that's different between the two of us: 
He loves having his friends here, the longer the better. He doesn't care about timetables.
I want to know the fucking timetable. I would never admit it out loud, but the closer to the minute, the better. Do I only prep for breakfast? Or for breakfast and lunch? Should I bake a cake for tea? I need to know. 
He doesn't mind having his plans interrupted, because he quite often doesn't have a plan for the day. (The thought alone makes me shutter.) He's spontaneous, loves surprises, and loves having company. 
I always have a plan. I hate having it interrupted. I only like spontaneity if it's carefully planned. I need to feel in control. However, life with Rich and living in control are non-compatible. 

The long and short of it is, I had a roast dinner cooked for me last Wednesday night. It was unexpected, and at first unwelcome. But then I mentally shook myself, because come on! A friend is cooking a roast dinner for you! No matter the plan, this certainly trumps junk food in bed, which I could have any night. And it was delicious! I still went to bed early, because these days I don't mind telling guests that, as much as I enjoy their presence, I need an early night. 
It was fine. Even if it wouldn't have been, I still would have gone to bed early. It was the only way how I could function properly the next day at work, at home, and for myself.  I'm still me, and I need to insert a little bit of order and control into the chaos. 
But I love the chaotic, messy life we have. 
When I was alone, I maintained order. I did the sensible thing. I didn't do anything crazy. I saved my money, adhered to the rules, and did what was expected of me. 
And I was utterly miserable. 
That all changed when I met Rich. Chaos met fear. He was everything I was not: outgoing, loud, life-loving, gregarious, brave. 
I met him 17 years ago, and ever since then, my life has been chaos. And while I still sometimes struggle with that chaos, I'm so very grateful for it. 
His chaos has brought more people, dogs, cats, children, grandchildren, opportunities, animals and crazy encounters into my life than I could ever have imagined.  

With Rich I've travelled to Mexico, Hawaii, Peru, Alaska, Russia, about a dozen states in the US, the Caribbean, large parts of Europe, and to TackhΓΌtte more times than anyone would ever ask to (but the people there are so welcoming, it's always great).  
As much as I rant about the chaos (and I always will, because it goes against my nature), I'm also awed by it. I'll look at the 5 dogs stretched out on my bed, with the cat in between them, and I have to pinch myself to make sure that this is not just another one of my crazy dreams. I have the pack of dogs I always dreamed of. Our house has visitors almost daily, and overnight guests so frequently, I'm tempted to put a guest book in the She Shed (at last count, we had 25+ guests staying overnight since May last year). When I stop and reflect, I can't help but realize this: most of the dreams I envisioned for my life have manifested themselves.
It's crazy, because it's so unexpected. I always subconsciously assumed a new personality would come along with that outgoing, social personality I envisaged for myself, to help me with the big, full, people-y life I dreamed of. I do have the life filled with dinner and overnight guests, with dogs and cats and more animals than I have names for, with kids and a grandson. But it's still me, the same old me with all her hang-ups and ambitions of being the perfect hostess, with her same shyness and desire to hide under the blankets. 
Didn't see that one coming.  
Turns out, even the "perfect life" of my dreams isn't as perfect as I thought it would be. Why? Because I'm still me. I will never be the person who wholeheartedly embraces surprises. 
I will always freak out when my floors aren't clean and the fire isn't lit. 
I will complain about the new puppy we are about to adopt even though I have already fallen in love with him.
My need for order will always clash with Rich's inherent chaos.

But that chaos has given me so much more than my fear of the unknown ever did. 
I crave adventure, yet I need to be pushed towards it. 

I'm so lucky I found someone who will forever do the pushing.



  1. How timlely this post is! I was just spent yesterday fussing and annoyed with my hubby who was home on a holiday Monday and disrupting my usual morning routine in a most annoying way. Pigeon people showing up at our house completely out of the blue....expectations that I'll drop my carefully crafted plans for the day and you know, cook and stuff! Like you, I'm a routine and know the future to the minute kind of gal. I do foresee some bumps in the road when he retires LOL oh my goodness.

    1. Oh yes, that will be a BIG adjustment for you! I'd like to tell you how to draw firm boundaries, but I'm hopeless at it myself, so I can only wish you the best of luck -and lots of humour to deal with the craziness ;-)

  2. I love this, Miriam. Kevin and I are both very orderly - if anything, I'm the one who likes more chaos with people coming over, hosting parties, etc. but I still want everything to be orderly and clean for those people. It's nice that you and Rich are the perfect yin and yang for one another.

    1. I always secretly wanted a chef and/or a tidy person as life partners. The first one left me for my sister and the second one bored me to tears, so I guess I'm very lucky that I didn't get what I wished for?!
      Joking aside, I really believe that he is exactly what I needed to make my life as full and fun and exciting as I always wanted it to be. As much as I may complain about it at the time, I'm so very grateful in hindsight that we get to have so many experiences I never would have without him. He truly is the yin to my yang.

  3. Ahhh, I love this! The Mr is just like you in that he loves a plan. I, however, am chaos incarnate. Opposites attract, I suppose, right?


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