My closet is a complete mess.
This is not unusual, as Nurse Judy, my fashion-conscious alter ego, is continually rummaging through it, trying to be the best-dressed person walking to the mailbox each day.
I prefer to get the mail in my bathrobe, and I prefer my closet to be completely organized. Right there you can see we are diametrically opposed in our viewpoints.
While I spend hours arranging my clothing by color, hung neatly in rows, with baskets beneath them holding matching shoes, she spends minutes destroying my organization and heaping the closet floor and adjoining dressing room with all the items she rejects.
The closet has become a daily tug of war.
What makes today’s mess exceptionally challenging is that it’s quite a bit bigger than usual.
“What in the world are you looking for?” I finally ask Nurse Judy.
“4th of July clothes,” she answers – not stopping her tossing and pitching.
“Clothes?” I ask. “The 4th is one day! You need one outfit.”
“Oh no,” she says. “I need to dress patriotically all week.”
I pause. Finally, I say, “This is a bigger mess than you made at Christmas when you insisted on dressing for the season the whole month of December. Why must I wade through these piles of clothes and shoes for a less time-consuming holiday?”
She gives me a pitying glance and explains slowly as if she is speaking to someone with a mental problem.
“It is simple. Christmas has two colors – red and green. Independence Day has three colors – red, white and blue. It takes longer to go through more colors and makes more mess. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
I stamp my foot.
“Stop talking like that,” I say, “and don’t shout. I am not deaf or mentally impaired.”
She snickers at this, but I continue.
“Why are you making such a fuss about the 4th of July?”
“Because it’s Independence Day,” she says, “and I’m so glad I’m independent of you. I can choose not to wear a crumby old bathrobe all day. I can choose to keep myself up. I can choose to be more social and not a hermit like you. I can make a mess of the closet if I want to.”
I stop her.
“You can never be independent of me,” I say. “You are the other half of me. Together we make one imperfect whole - a person who wants to be completely organized, but often becomes completely messy; a person who wants to be comfortable, but sometimes wants to be pretty; a person who cherishes her alone time, but sometimes wants to party. We are one person, flaws and all. Let’s forget all this and think about the real meaning of our country’s independence.”
She’s silent for quite a while.
“I get it,” she finally says. “Our country fought for its independence and finally got it, but it is made up of parts also. Some of us are Democrats, and some of us are Republicans. Sometimes we want different things, but we are one country, flaws and all. We don’t have to fight about it. Both sides have to give a little for each to be happy – just like we do.”
In her simple absurd way, I think she did get it. I suspect, however, there will be a fight when it comes to cleaning up the closet mess she’s made.
I also suspect America will have more fights before she gets her messes cleaned up. Yet America is our country – one we are so lucky to live in and one that deserves to be celebrated this week.
Let’s put on our red, white and blue, forget our differences and have a great 4th of July.