Keeping a clean room was never really a forte of mine. I’m not strong with continuous maintenance. I prefer cleaning-up in cycles. Cleaning up frequently, rather than daily: to reorganize and get stuff in order, or where I want stuff to be. This was at odds with my family when I was growing up, given that the house was cleaned up and reorganized on a daily basis: to ensure things were never out of place. My mum’s philosophy towards things is that they should always be where you expect them to be. The problem is that for me, that’s very different to what typical organization looks like. I expect things to be where I’ve mapped out a place for them in my brain – which is often not where you’d intuitively grab for things.
This made moving into the hostel a lot easier. I no longer had to organize in a manner that suited aesthetics or suited how my parents wished for things to be organized. I could organize the way I wanted to. That freedom was something I found very liberating for a long time, because while I could keep the room clean – I didn’t have to bother too much about its aesthetics. Something I learned pretty quickly though is that aesthetics matter; and they matter because they often reveal how organized a place is. I learned to organize in a way that looked presentable. My University instituted this clean room award thing: an award I derided and laughed at, but hoped I’d win. If nothing, just to show my parents I had this clean room I actually maintained without their interventions.
Each time I come back to campus I have to undertake a massive cleaning effort. It takes ages, and honestly is one of the most cathartic things I do when I come back for a new semester. It makes this place feel like home again. I know I’m not going to win that clean room award. Of that I’m very certain. But, I know that my room is clean. It’s the cleanest it will be for the rest of the semester. I’ll take that and move forward.