I'm going to St. Louis for a month, for work, and I'm staying with a dear friend of mine. He is a kind, talented, intelligent and forgiving individual, and I already feel so sorry that he's going to have to deal with me inhabiting his home for so long -- his beautiful, grown-up, good smelling, well-lit, home.
All I can think about is the night.
By night I mean specifically the hours between 11 pm and 3 am, when I am most active. I'm basically nocturnal, so when most people are rebuilding brain cells in REM sleep, I'm tearing them down writing or emailing or watching television.
My husband and previous housemates have always had to go through a sort of baffling breaking in period of dealing with me grumbling and skulking around the house in the wee hours of the morning. I am obsessively considerate (I think), and usually don't wake anybody up, but there's always the odd moment when I'll be screaming "FUCK YOU!" at either my computer or the TV or both.
So you can understand the anxiety I'm experiencing, knowing that I'm going to be inflicting myself upon a relatively normal, diurnal human being.
We've been friends for over a decade, but in that time I've only stayed with him for short weekends at a time, and therefore have been able to control myself. However, with the prospect of stress and access to Showtime AND Tivo, I'm afraid that my hybrid Badger-Vampire Bat Spirit Animal may take over and I'll become the energy leech that I know I have the potential to be.
Plus, when stress gets me down, I revert to my most disgusting self. In the days leading up to my departure, I'm turning over the pros and cons of letting it all hang out and having no shame, or holding onto the shame and squirreling away my quirks quietly in my bedroom. I guess there has to be a middle ground, I am a GUEST after all, but I'm bad at "the middle" -- I tend to live in extremes.
Anyway, aside from the whole "nightwalker" thing, this is what I'm obsessing about:
I eat all the time.
I'm not one of those people who can eat three meals a day and be sated. If I had to put a number on how many "meals" I ate a day, it would probably be something like 10-12.
I'm a grazer. I'm always a little bit hungry, and it is the propelling force in my life. If hunger is gnawing at the periphery of my consciousness, I am a slave to it. So when I'm at home, I'm always nibbling on something.
I actually dread it when a person I'm house-sitting for says, "Anything in the fridge or pantry is fair game!" because it is literally like inviting an OCD vampire into your kitchen. One potato chip will turn into the whole bag, will turn into "your entire bottle of vegan bacon bits made a great snack after I ate the rice crispy squares your grandmother made you for your birthday."
I'm basically terrified that my friend is going to find me passed out on the couch in the morning suckling from a French's Mustard bottle, since I ate EVERYTHING ELSE IN HIS HOUSE.
The bathroom. Shit. Literally.
Nothing I do in the bathroom is brief. It takes forever to wash my hair because of my crazy dandruff-thwarting routine, and even washing my face at night is rather methodical and ritualistic.
However, the lengthiness of my beauty ritual is nothing compared to the time I spend in the bathroom dealing with digestive issues. I'm basically at the mercy of my colon.
I have Celiac and even gluten aside, I've always had a particularly sensitive stomach. If I just go a little overboard on that hunk of cheese or if I have one too many jalapeño potato chips, the comeuppance will be swift and vicious. Well, swift in that if I don't SWIFTLY get to a bathroom, I'll be in owing my friend not only for the food I ate, but also for a carpet replacement.
That's where the swiftness ends. Even on a "regular" day, I'm slow. Just the way I am, and try as I might, I can't speed things along. On a bad day, I've been clocked in at two hours of misery. Not to mention once I exit the lavatory on a bad day, it's all I can do but to offer the other inhabitants of the house an overnight stay at the closest hotel.
Try as I might, I'm messy and it follows me everywhere.
Let's not confuse messy with dirty though. I'm very clean. I fight roaches in Hawai'i, so I'm well acquainted with wiping down and vacuuming and taking out the garbage and doing the dishes. I'm very clean, I'm just not very tidy.
I don't know what happens, I try to keep a place for everything, and everything in it's place, but no matter what I do, a trail of debris seems to follow me from room to room.
I try to remember to pick up my coffee cups and sweaters and shoes, but I get so wrapped up in what I'm doing, or where I'm heading, everything falls to the wayside and stuff gets left behind.
I've definitely opened the fridge in the morning to find that I've put my purse or flip-flops in there for "safe-keeping." I have no memory of actually doing it, but I suspect that I was in the midst of cleaning up and I remembered that I'd Tivoed a documentary on the Villisca Axe Murders or something, and I scurried off to watch it, tossing whatever I was holding into the nearest receptacle.
Some find this charming, I find it embarrassing. And if my friend finds any of my clothes chilling in his fridge, I will die.
These are the big ones. There are other little things that worry me too, like the fear that because of the time difference between Honolulu and St. Louis, I will end up sleeping until 1 pm everyday for the first week, thus establishing me as being lazy and adolescent.
I'm sure I will find some way to embarrass myself while in St. Louis, I just hope it's not at the expense of my friend's peaceful life. But take heart, if I end up snacking on the cat's medication at 2 am and need to be rushed to the nearest hospital due to uncontrollable diarrhea, you can be sure I will let tell you all about it in obsessive detail.