Laudanum & Lye

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m a mess. I mean that in the literal sense, but I’m a mess pretty much everywhere else too. But the core of my mess comes in how I live. I am cluttered, and I hate to clean up. So I’d just as soon leave dirty dishes and boxes of magic cards and hell, even Christmas Presents out in the open and unwrapped. My clutter has gotten me in trouble more than once this Christmas season as my wife now knows what all but one of her Christmas presents are because I kept leaving receipts and packing slips out in the open like some kind of monster.


With that on the table, it’s pretty safe to assume that I don’t keep the cleanest house. It’s not awful, mind you, I clean up after my dogs as best I can and I make sure I don’t let food rot all over the place. (Just my office, oops.)


As the wedding drew closer and closer this year, Meryl and I both were getting overwhelmed with making sure everything went off without a hitch. We wanted it to be as perfect as it could be given the circumstances of the year we were married in. That being said, I was working full time and tired, then on top of that, we were trying to train our new pup and not die from malnutrition as we prepped for the wedding so we were pretty out of it by the end of the day.


We both began to wonder how people who were busy all the time had such clean houses like you see the stories of people who work full-time jobs, sometimes two, and then come home to these picturesque beautiful homes and I’m like “yo, you guys do anything else?”


Like a full cleaning day in the apartment is straight like four hours to get everything right and then about thirty thousand more if you count laundry and dishes and it trips me up, maybe I’ve gotten used to living in the mustiness but the fact is I’m just always so tired. I try to stay busy as much as I can and God Bless my wife who has taken up the slack where I’ve left it without question. She’s even started doing dishes for me and I know she hates that, but before the wedding, we were both so strapped and stressed and needed a break and sure enough, we had some help.


See, as a wedding present, a couple of our friends came through and cleaned our entire house. One completely reorganized my office and fixed all of the problems I’d been complaining about for the last year but never fixed ’cause of that damn laziness. We left one day, I got into my office and started working and they came in like a whirlwind and cleaned the whole place in a couple of hours and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever felt love like that in my whole life.


The kind of heart you have to have to clean another person’s toilet isn’t the kind of heart you just get at birth. That takes dedication and love, you know? I’ve been thinking about that a lot since it happened. The chaos of the wedding is all but over and we’re riding out the end of the year before we wrap up the loose ends and man…


I’d love to be able to always give that kind of love.

That kind of “Ignore all my plans for the whole day to do something for someone else,” kind of love, that “Won’t make my position in life any better but I’m going to do it anyway,” kind of love. I kind of forgot what that’s like, I spend so much time trying to do stuff for myself. My writing and my working and my sleeping and my caffeine intake that interrupts the level of cleanliness in the house are all for me. I slack hard when it comes to almost anything that isn’t about me and that really gets to you deep down when someone does something like that for you. It might not be as big of a deal to you guys out there with orderly, hospital clean countertops but that’s not the life I live. It might sound like I live in a meth den, but hey we moved out of that a year ago. We’ve leveled up and just kind of lost control of our situation a little bit.

That’s a wild, almost impossible kind of love to understand you know? Going out to clean my friend’s house is down there on the to-do list past setting my place on fire.

“I just don’t have the time.”

I guarantee that’s what I’d say. Hell, I say it to Meryl every day about my own projects. I just don’t have the time to write anymore. I don’t have time to train the pups. I don’t have time to go grocery shopping. I don’t have time to clean the dishes.

It’s started to sound a little bit like


“I just don’t have the time to be a good friend anymore, this life has gotten too crazy.”

Man isn’t that like the fattest lie you’ve ever heard. Of course, I have the time. She’s got the time to do everything I’m not and half the stuff I’m doing isn’t providing for us in real-time yet. A young man is called to be a lot better than that and I haven’t been. That’s something I really needed to address this year.


2020 has caught me amid my setbacks and made me focus on them hard, I think it’s done it for all of us. See, I have this working theory, the other day at Walmart one of the cashiers went on break when the line was crazy and everybody waiting on the aisle threw a whole ass fit. A couple of people said stuff to the tune of “Don’t you realize we all have stuff to do today?”

Man, it set the whole of this quarantine into perspective for me. I’ve changed a ton this year because all of the fictitious stuff got peeled back, like my job and my games and my writing and the things I considered my identity. I stopped seeing most of the people in my life I used to see regularly, I got a new job which entails me sitting at home alone most days and the company I keep in large part are the pups, I don’t even see my wife until it’s almost time to hit the hay. I get to spend a lot of time with me and it made me realize how much time I’ve always spent with “Me.”

I’m talking like, all of it.

Even during my best time, I did so much just for myself, and I’m not out here trying to say that everybody needs to drop their projects and their joys to serve other people cause that’s 100% not what I’m saying. I’m saying I think this year has stripped away the bark for all of us and we finally got a real, genuine glimpse of the rotten wood beneath and we’ve reacted in two ways.

We either see it and try to heal it.

Or.

We see it and try to hide.

Those of us in the second camp have grown more selfish and insecure this year. Starting petty drama in Walmart cause y’all couldn’t go shopping for dinner the morning it was scheduled instead of a couple of hours before you were supposed to have the roast cooked. It’s led to petty internet squabbles and the ever-growing need for internet attention. It’s led to conspiracy and sickness and judgment and it’s led to anger.

See, the way I see it, I don’t like what I saw in myself this year. The selfishness and the sickness inside my heart is poison for my life, my marriage, and my writing. It’ll kill all of it but hey, there’s hope.
Someone still loves me enough to clean my house for me while I gawk at the rotten wood beneath the mask I’d kept up. That’s enough to give anyone hope, and hope is enough to give anyone another chance.
You know what, I’m gonna repeat that so you can really let it set in.

Hope is enough to give anyone another chance.

If y’all have seen in yourselves the same kind of stuff I’ve seen in me this year, let me tell you what you need to do.

Go clean your best friend’s house.
(Then clean your own.)

See, when you get to clean someone’s real, physical house, it gives them so much time to think about their own life and what kind of person they have become. Then, you can go home and work on yourself.

Maybe they’ll help, I sure hope so. Sometimes their house is in order, but I’ll let you in on a secret, your best friend has something else that they need help with too. Maybe you should start at the house and move on to the garage, maybe you should move on to the lawn, maybe you should move on to their stress and their hopelessness and maybe you’ll get there like I did and realize…

I forgot to mention, this life and everything I do in it still isn’t about me, even if I did get married this year.

My life is a gift, and I am so thankful for 2020 for reminding me of that.

This song came on while I was writing, and it really matched what I was feeling as I thought about this topic. I hope y’all listen and later on go show these guys love. I’ve been listening to Ruslan specifically for most of the year and I don’t know man, something about this song put my head in the right space

Either way, I hope you enjoy.

God Bless, Bring a Sword


If you enjoyed today’s writing please share it on whatever social media outlet you enjoy the most. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out The Grimoire of Finality where you can read all of my incoming fiction writing. (It still has that new blog smell.)

I hope something I’ve said made a difference in your life, and please always remember…

Life is not meant to be awful.

Catch me on social media if you’d like to get more info/updates on what is soon to come!

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook

@alvatobiasbooks

Salt & Iron Productions

(On Facebook)

-AT

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