I live in a two-bedroom one-bathroom 1,100-square-foot condo with my husband. That’s considered fairly roomy in our neighborhood, since the average cost per square foot is $739. We certainly aren’t rolling in the dough and can’t afford to purchase one of the neighborhood’s newer, more spacious, multi-million-dollar units. So we live on the third floor of a vintage walk-up.
We also love to cook. Well I’m using the word “love” liberally. And the word “we.” Tom likes to cook. And I’ve only come around in the last few years, playing the role of sous chef. We also love our Blue Apron subscription and have come to totally rely on its convenience during our busy weeks. Blue Apron sends killer recipes of foods I’d never endeavor to cook on my own. I haven’t even heard of half the shit they send us. Obscure vegetables, foreign spices, and other mysterious ingredients grace our weekly delivery.
So, back to our living arrangement. Our bedroom sits off our living room. And our closet is nestled right next to the door. Our closet where my clothes live. Hence when we’re cooking those glorious meals, those exotic-but-not-so-glorious smells waft into our bedroom. Into our closet. Into my clothes. In the battle against smells, my clothes are on the front line. I’ve politely requested that we close all bedroom doors when we prepare meals, but that only quasi-relieves our conundrum.
Because we’re cooking so close to our closet, I’ve developed an obsessive fear that I’m constantly walking around smelling like fish. Or hamburger. Or musty, putrid, garlic. I fear my skin smells like those weird, foreign spices Blue Apron is sending us. I fear the smells have permeated my pores. I fear the person sitting next to me on the bus is literally thinking, “Where is the homeless person? I can smell the homeless person and I must move.”
I know I should have overwhelming feelings of gratitude when I walk in the door after a long day at work and Tom has started dinner. I should literally drop my things, fall to my knees, and say, “You are the greatest man in the world and I will do anything for you.” But in full disclosure, that is not my gut reaction. My gut reaction says something more like, “Oh god oh god I hope he closed our bedroom door and I really hope he closed the spare bedroom door where my freshly laundered clothes are drying because I CAN’T TAKE SMELLING LIKE SALMON ANYMORE!!!! What will people think?! That I actually eat FOOD?!”
You see this is it, the crux of so many of my “problems.” I’m so concerned with how the strangers on the train think I smell that I miss out on appreciating the fact that my husband is cooking me dinner. I’m too busy freaking out over other people’s opinions of me. I wish I were naturally the kind of person who would not care about smells. I wish I could focus on my gratitude and appreciation for my husband instead of my all-consuming fear about my clothes. And sometimes I can. But boy is it hard. It’s not my nature. I have to fight for it. Work through the discomfort, the fear. The obsession with perfection. Because getting to the other side is always worth it. Even if I smell like sardines.