I blame it on Agatha Christie. Both of my parents were fans of Agatha Christie’s mysteries, so I had access to dozens of her books and read them while I was still young and impressionable. Most of her works featured Hercule Poirot, a retired Belgian police officer who had a love for cleanliness and a passion for order and tidiness. I read dozens of books in which Poirot solved his cases not just by “employing his little grey cells,” but by methodically gathering clues and putting them into the proper order.
I may not have Poirot’s detective skills or brain power, but I must have assimilated his love of cleanliness and order. How else do you explain the fact that the spices on my spice rack are in alphabetical order? Or that the books on my bookshelf are grouped both according to the author, with subcategories for hardback and paperback books? I read a home-decorating article once that said end tables must be decorated in groups of threes, and now all my end tables have exactly three framed photos or knick-knacks on them.
My kitchen is small, so I have an extra pantry in the basement where the food is sorted according to size and expiration date. The tops in my closet are hung according to style, with the sleeveless tops at the far right, followed by short-sleeved, three-quarter sleeved, and finally, long-sleeved. Those are the casual tops. The dressy ones are on the rack directly above, similarly sorted. My shoes, on the other hand, are just haphazardly stuck in there, don’t ask me why. Poirot would be horrified.
Luckily, or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, my husband is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I have a photo of the contents of one of his drawers I keep just in case I’ll ever need it for blackmail. If I tell you the photo contains both underwear and a screwdriver, you’ll get the idea. One of the many reasons we have a happy marriage is that we never share closet space or dresser drawers, and I do all the cooking.
I have long since learned to stop apologizing for my compulsive desire to organize things, or to try to change my husband’s lack of organization. (Clearly, he didn’t grow up on Hercule Poirot novels.) Because I’ve learned that a happy home doesn’t have to be either clean or messy. It just has to be the place where we get to be ourselves, and know that we’re loved and accepted for exactly who we are.