Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Break In Routine

When I get home from work, I have a pretty standard routine.

I come in the door, say hi to R___ (who is usually seated in the living room at his computer), toss any mail I have collected onto the end table by the door, go into the bedroom, and throw my keys in their little ceramic bowl. Then I put my backpack down, unload my wallet and book from the front pouch, and put them in their respective places (the wallet goes by my keys and the book goes on a stack near the mail). Next I unload the larger section of my backpack. If I've gone food shopping, I put those items away first, particularly if there is anything that needs to be refrigerated of frozen. If I went swimming, I take my wet suit and towel into the bathroom and hang them up on the middle two wall hooks, between our towels. If I've brought home my dirty running clothes, I dump them from their plastic bag into the hamper by the bedroom door. Finally, I plug in my iPod (if it's lost its charge) in the living room, remove my shoes and put them in the shoe rack on the back of the bedroom door, and--if I'm home for the evening--change into pajamas.

As you may have determined from the specificity of this routine, I am slightly OCD about it. Putting away everything in its rightful place when I get home comforts me, and I hate being interrupted until I have reached the pajama-wearing stage. When R___ and I first started living together, he simply did not understand. I would walk in the door, and he would immediately accost me with hugs and chatter. Under almost any other circumstance, I like hugs and chatter; however, if it impinges on my Arriving Home Routine, I get anxious and frustrated and usually snap at him until he goes away and lets me finish putting things where they belong.

Sometime this past spring--almost three years since we first moved in together--R___ finally figured it out. He started saying "hello" when I walked in the door from his position in the living room, and then not moving from his chair until I was finally clad in T-shirt and boxer shorts. At first I just assumed he was preoccupied when I arrived home, and braced myself the next day for his inevitable interruption. But it never came. Eventually, I relaxed into my routine and began to approach him after I had finished everything I needed to do.

Yesterday, I arrived home and began my routine as usual. R___ and I said hello, I put the mail on its end table, and I tossed my keys into their bowl. Once my wallet and book were in their proper places, I put the half and half I had bought for R___ in the fridge, and the bags of coffee and Oreos onto the designated snack shelf. Then I went into the bathroom to hang up my swimming gear, and finally returned to the bedroom to retrieve the final item, my iPod, from my backpack. As I was straightening up, iPod in hand, I noticed an orange shape in my peripheral vision. Hmmm, I thought. That's odd. I don't remember hanging anything in that spot on the wall. There used to be a calendar there, but I took it down a while ago.... I turned toward the wall, and low and behold, there was an orange Post-It stuck to the surface!

"5 Reasons Why I Love My Swan*," it read.  "#2: She's super inspiring."

Putting down my iPod, I peeled the Post-It off of the wall and took it into the living room. R___ was already turned toward me, suppressing a grin.

"What's this?" I asked. "Where's number one?"

"You'll have to find it. They're not in a particular order; I just put the five reasons at the top so you knew how many to look for."

I glanced around the living room until I saw another orange square stuck to the black television screen.

"Oooh!" I raced over.

"5 Reasons Why I Love My Swan. #4: She's amazingly supportive."

Suffice to say, I spent the next few minutes on one of the most fun, spontaneous scavenger hunts ever. And all before I plugged in my iPod or even took off my shoes. 

Sometimes a break in routine is totally worth it.

*Every couple has weird nicknames for one another. This happens to be mine.

No comments: