Tonight my in-laws will be arriving for a visit. It will the be the first time we have had visitors in our new apartment and I am feeling what I always feel about such things, both excitement and apprehension.
I like it when people visit. Your routine is altered: instead of having breakfast the same way you do every day you skip it or you go out to a diner. Instead of being in bed at exactly ten o’clock you find yourself having deep conversations in the kitchen simply because there is someone new in your kitchen with you at that time.
What troubles me when people visit is that I am always faced with certain truths about myself that I would prefer not to believe. For example: I am possessive about my possessions. My chair, my desk, my computer even my favorite mug. I take them all for granted and think nothing of them when it is just my wife and myself. We know the rules, we follow them, life goes on smoothly.
It is when the visitors arrive and they open your cupboard and take out your favorite mug, or sit in your seat after dinner or use your computer at the time of day when you usually check you email; these are the times when it becomes apparent to me that I do not like sharing my stuff. Sometimes the item in question is breakable and I find myself watching intently as the grip on the handle or the lack of two-handed support is employed. I stop listening to the conversation and I become focused to the exclusion of everything around me as I watch this person, this visitor, toy with my emotions as they gingerly sway the mug as they speak or turning the keepsake over in their hands.
It’s not something I am proud of and it always leads my thoughts to that of being a parent and how this is a major shortcoming for that role. I have always believed myself to be relaxed and easy-going because things in my home do not have to placed in a certain manner or cleaned according to a set schedule. The handling of my possessions, the respect I feel they must be shown, is entirely a different matter and is the clearest indicator that I can see of problems to come.
At the end of the day I am not a person who gets overly attached to things. When my cars have ceased to run or when a chair or a lamp or a pair of shoes must be thrown out I do so without the slightest hesitation. This is why I find it so shocking that the thought of an early departure of certain items it so upsetting to me. After all it is only a coffee mug, or a teakettle or a pillow.
The solution seems rather simple: have others handle these items more often. One or possibly two things will happen. The first is I will grow accustomed to the act and with its repetition the fear of items being damaged should lessen. The second would be that things will get broken more often and as these items continue to broken it will become more tolerable.
I have no idea if this system would work, if I would change and adapt or if it would just continue to annoy and bother me. What I can say with absolute certainty is that how things are is not as I would like them so change is the only good option. So perhaps tomorrow morning I will choose a different mug for myself and offer my favorite to my father-in-law. Or I will sit in a chair a let my mother-in-law recline on the couch and do my best to ignore whatever petty issue begins to gnaw at me. Self-improvement comes in many forms, it is only when the forms are so silly that it seems as though it should be called by another name. Wish me luck.