I think people's cleanliness standards are way too high. It pisses me off when I go to someone's place and they give some pained speech before opening their door, foreshadowing chaos within, “I am so sorry. It is so messy in here. I didn’t have time to clean. Oh my God, I’m just so embarrassed to let you see the filth in which I reside!”
And then, after assuring them of my supreme nonjudgmentalness on this matter, we go in, and everything is basically spotless, except that a couple of couch pillows are askew and there’s a magazine open with earrings lying on top. I’ll think, fuck you and your cleanliness standards.
My apartment, as I would define it, is a little bit messy. I have dried urine on the bathroom floor. There is a three-day-old bowl of beans calcifying on my desk. A mandarin orange peel coexisting with an undershirt in the kitchen. Pen caps, empty water bottles, dried spinach leaves, fruit flies, stuff—just stuff! —everywhere! That’s me on a good day.
But I don’t see the mess I live in as foul. In fact, I don’t see it at all. Maybe it is an undiagnosed neurological disorder. Maybe it’s the purest form of apathy. But when I look at the objective filth in which I live, I see normalcy, not mess.
There was one time when I saw my apartment as everyone else does, and it was wild. A friend and I had taken acid on Halloween night. I got home at four in the morning, still tripping, and per usual, it was the scene of a tornado-ravaged dwelling. Cutlery on the floor, nail clippings on the counter, the works! But somehow, in that hallucinogenic state, I saw the mess through the eyes of respectable members of society.
I saw it as the unspeakably squalid living quarters that it truly was. I thought, what the fuck is this? Are you kidding me, Nikhil? Who lives like this? This is disgusting—maybe even a sanitation hazard. No wonder no one dates you. You are going to clean all this up and treat the habit of tidying up as an integral part of the adult life you profess to lead! Tomorrow!
Exhausted, I fell asleep and woke up at 2pm, frazzled, still wearing the remains of the Catholic nun costume whose irony I mistakenly thought would be clever. I looked around and saw the same mess I had seen the night before. And I thought, this seems normal. Despite my very best efforts, and trust me I tried, I could not for the life of me find it off-putting. And I never had that experience again.