I’m an untidy person. This is not some statement of a truth that I have just learned it’s a fact of my life. The way a short man knows he’s a short man, it has always been so and except for a short period in high school when everyone else shot up and he had a fleeting hope he knows it will always be so.
I don’t know why I am so untidy but I am. It’s something I cannot hide from its something I don’t try to change anymore it’s something that just is. I have to pretend to be neat when I go to work, I need to wear ties and suits, its compulsory to tuck in my shirt and close the buttons. So I pretend to be neat but there is always something off. A tie slightly askew, the back of my shirt not quite tucked, a coat that should fit perfectly sitting slightly sideways. The effort to keep up this lie is exhausting and as soon as I woke out of the office the untidiness is more pronounced, I’m never simply a guy who loosened his tie in order to loosen up; I loosened the tie and folded up the shirt sleeves and untucked the shirt seams and opened the button on the trouser just for a breather.
Also, careless. They say socks and cigarette lighters go to the same place where they meet all the girls that would have been a purgatory that we can never look into. I’m great at losing all these things. Last year my room degenerated into a state of anarchy that seems to be a spirit child of Libya. There are exercise books from the June when I last read for School still on the table. A turned over bottle of cough syrup taking pride of place amongst earphones that stopped working so long ago I’m not sure they were ever mine. Those red rectangles of airtel credit, boxes from the various phones that I have lost that have become storage depots for cufflinks, coins and condoms. Books I’ve read, books I’ve tired of reading, books I wrote in, an unopened tube of toothpaste, a salt shaker, DVDs from what must be five years ago.
It’s a mess. But I have many socks. Many, many socks. I remember walking in town and seeing a guy sell socks and I bought them in black and dark blue thinking that if I had more than one pair of each I could mix and match when there were only three blacks or two blues. I repeated and repeated until I was sure that I didn’t have a sock problem. There is though no such thing as not having a sock problem. They will disappear like sunrises no matter how many more you think you have you will wake up one day and find yourself in drastic lack.
I hate tidying up my room. There’s something wrong with me and this I know. I look at the room and I feel that there must be something wrong with a guy who lives in a place like this. I hang up my coats as soon as I get home because laundering is pretty damn inconvenient. I would have to bundle them up and carry them into town go to the office and then leave the office and go to a launderer to drop them off wait for them to be cleaned and then go to pick them up, I have a feeling that on that day there would be a line for the javs, the floodgates of heaven would open and I would have to somehow carry this freshly pressed suit as the one I wore became soaked from collar to foot seam.
I feel like it’s easier for me to lose my socks than it is for other people. I acquired a bad habit (one of many but as I said in a previous post this is a part of life-getting bad habits and resolving to quit them) I sleep in my socks. I have heard all the stories about how ridiculous a man looks when he is in nothing but socks, and its probably ten times worse to sleep in your socks but writing calls for honesty and vulnerability so I’ll lay myself bare this paragraph, except of course for the socks. There I am in bed in my shorts and t-shirt and socks and then it gets too hot. Nairobi is fucking hot and I want to take them off. So I do. It’s too cold so I pull them on. It’s hot-off. Cold-on. Then I do this thing where I take them half off so they reach just below my heels. In the course of all the dreams I explore they become loose and are kicked off and fall under the bed.
The floor of my room is messy. I have many ties. 20 or 30 or something. Enough that I could go a month without putting on the same tie twice. But how to remember what I wore on Wednesday last week? I came up with an ingeniously maddening solution: I simply come home and dump the tie I am currently wearing on the floor. The floor here, the floor there, the floor everywhere. There are ties strewn all over my room like cold-war mines. They get transferred from the drawer to the floor via my neck and when the drawer is empty I pick them up and put them back in. there are also jeans and paper bags, jumpers and mouses (the electronic type.) This month I lost my towel for weeks only to find it lying on the floor.
So my socks get lost and I have nothing to wear. I’m having to wash them all the time. I’m having to mismatch them anyway. I’m having to really hope they dry and I’m having to tell myself that I am not going to take off my shoes on that day because that’s the only way I allow myself to repeat them. Untidiness is not after all synonymous with dirtiness.
As last year drew to a close I was so sure I would do one massive spring cleaning. I could feel that year bearing down on me hard. I felt as if I was turning the corner on an incredibly shitty year and there were winds of change. I psyched myself up to do it and then…I did not. The year began with the room looking just like it had except there were less socks. I hunted for the socks. I looked under my bed and picked one or two and became lazy because that bought me yet another day.
I have a plastic chair that I use as a wardrobe. I drape my trousers and half coats on it. It is cleared whenever there are visitors and all of a sudden I realise just how many clothes I have in this state of limbo not dirty and not clean, not ready to be washed not fit to be hang up. Then I looked for socks there and found two. I dumped them in a corner of my room and found more socks. Took those and put them away. They were rarely siblings. Singles abounded until they did not. All of a sudden there were doubles and trebles. I was finding socks everywhere. Under the mattress: socks, under the pile of newspapers whose provenance or purpose in this room I could not say: socks. Socks under the ties and socks under the trousers.
There was a mushrooming of socks such as I had never witnessed in my life. I had 5 then 6 then 7 then 8 pairs of socks. I had 9 and a 10th pair showed up just yesterday. They matched I could wash them and place them side by side. All. These. Socks. The only order I have established in this room, is these socks. Black and dark blue, and dark grey and a lighter yet still dark shade of grey and that one pair of brown socks. The spring of socks as if I was suddenly being plagued with socks.
Ask me for my one significant achievement of 2015: I found my mutherfucking socks.
While editing this I found that all the gains I had made I lost. In this never-ending struggle for the socks of my sole i found that no side wins, one side just loses more slowly.