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  • Emily Echols

Messy House Friends


A friend of mine recently said, “Your life is stressing me out.” My glib response was, “Yeah, me too.” But then I thought about the horror of my life being so stressful that it was leaking out into other people’s lives, dripping on their nice wood floors, staining their couches. I thought maybe I could tell less, be less honest. I could share less of myself.


Once I sent a friend an article on Facebook simply because it had the word “decrapify” in it. I thought he would like it. Another friend also commented, agreeing that it sounded like him. He responded, “It is good to be fully known.” I think about that a lot-what it means to be fully known, how we show ourselves to people, who we let in. Maybe when I’m a famous blogger/writer/speaker that can be my thing. Let yourself be fully known. Not by everyone, of course, but by some people. Friends who, when you tell them you wrote an essay on cardboard you’d found in the trunk of your car, just laugh and say, “I love you,” like it’s a normal thing. I hope you have friends who aren’t surprised when you show up with two hundred cookies that you baked last night. I hope you have friends who bring you coffee without you even having to ask.


Overall, I’m pretty bad at letting people in. I’m nervous around new people and I don’t remember how to talk unless people hold the key to the introvert door and ask me about writing or theology or my children. Sometimes when I’m nervous I perform and I’m loud and silly and then exhausted afterward.


But this friend has known me for over ten years. This is the friend I send my shitty first drafts. He was my very first seminary friend. He was my friend when I had no friends. It’s too late now. I’m fully known.


It's good to have friends who can tell you your life is stressing them out. It’s good to see it from the outside. Yup, it looks crazy from here, too. Is there a way to make it less crazy? What could I add or subtract? Is the answer spending more time at the YMCA? That feels like the answer to everything right now. Babysitters. I need all the babysitters. But I also know I need my keyboard and blank word documents. Last night I stayed up until 1:30am typing because it’s kind of the one thing making me feel like a person right now and not just someone’s mom.


I had a friend at Fort Polk who talked about messy house friends. There are the people you clean your house for and then there are your messy house friends. They’re the friends who text you and walk over to your house barefoot a few minutes later. They’re the ones you feed leftovers because it’s lunch time but you’re still talking. They’re the friends you invite in even though there’s a pile of unfolded laundry on the couch. They might even help you fold it.

So I’m leaving grease marks all over my friend’s kitchen cabinets with my stressful life. But, thankfully, he’s used to that by now.


Well hold on, my darling This mess was yours, Now your mess is mine

Bring me to your house And tell me "sorry for the mess" Hey, I don't mind


Vance Joy

“Mess Is Mine”

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