Almost OCD


September 11

‘Almost’ is one of the most disappointing words in the English language. Very few sentences that carry ‘almost’ can be uplifting. Almost all of them call for a sympathetic ‘oohhhhh’ (haha, I am so clever.). You’re almost beautiful. You almost made my day. We almost wanted to wait for you before we finished the chocolate cake, we almost did wait… I almost married you – though in that case it might be a positive.

I have almost OCD, which means that it isn’t so cool that I could write a book about the intricacies of my mental order. I’m not so meticulous that I would fascinate people or make their eyes go wide because I need my toothbrush to face a certain way in its blue plastic home. I don’t measure the distance between my spoon and fork with a measuring tape every time I sit down to dinner, nor do I really mind crooked photographs in scrapbooks – as long as they’re artfully and mostly purposefully crooked.

I’m more of the housewife OCD variety – I have to puff up cushions on the sofa in the exact manner my mind sees it fit, always the same way, and I will start a battle of wills as soon as I spot crumbs on the coffee table or dirty dishes in the sink. I will make my bed even if it means I’ll miss my bus and be late for class. In fact, I will make my bed every time I sit on it and then get up, just pulling at the edges to get the creases out. My friends used to love making a point of falling on my dorm bed with all their body weight and my younger sister still looks at me as if I had asked her to shave her head and dye it neon green when I ask her to sit on the sofa rather than my beautiful, sweet, neat bed…

People cutting their nails without putting something under their feet will give me an actual physical ache, and wet sponges lying in the skin make my skin crawl. I will organize the grocery in my cart, and your grocery in your cart. When I set the table I will always make sure the flowers on the plates are facing in the right direction, and the glasses are on the right hand side (as a social worker I realize that that might be discriminating against lefties but as a Pakistani social worker I realize that I don’t give a fuck about this particular detail) and the fork is to the left of the spoon. I don’t really know the actual art of laying a table and these are made-up rules but I abide by them dutifully. Shoes must always sit side by side, and never lie upside down.

I believe I creeped my first college roommate out because in a cleaning frenzy I hung up her PJs on a hanger and stuck it in on her closet handle. I love hotel rooms because they are so perfect and I secretly enjoy unpacking because it gives me a sense of accomplishment as I put everything neatly in its place.

I love sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea after mopping and dusting, turning on a candle or the fairy lights taped around the doorway to the living room. It is like meditation because it brings me peace and happiness, just breathing in the quiet cleanness.
When I pull up my laptop lid, the few seconds before the screen lights up, I can see all the dust on it and it makes me cringe, I want to jump off my bed and go get a duster or a Q-tip to slide it through the keys on the keyboard. But then the screen comes to life and the whitish blue glow makes the dust disappear. And so I keep sitting, and after a minute or two, I even forget. Which is why I know I don’t really have OCD, it is just almost OCD. 

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