Spring cleaning can be a challenge

We recently had coffee and dessert at the home of friends. Along with enjoying a homemade warm apple pie in a gracious atmosphere, I couldn’t help noticing, as I helped clear some of the dishes, that the kitchen was superbly organized.

Our hostess had no shame in opening her kitchen cabinets or pantry — not when everything in them looked as if it were ready for a magazine photo shoot on how to keep clutter and chaos from sabotaging your life.

I stared in awe.

I have spent a good part of my adult life searching for the meaning of the universe — and for a way to get organized.

I even recently consulted a professional organizer who was patient, kind, optimistic and non-judgmental.

But two weeks after her well-meaning intervention — and my best intentions — I was back to my wickedly disorganized ways.

I thought of all this after that recent spring visit to the wonderfully ordered house of our dessert hosts. My messy life always seems worse in this season when it’s presumably clean-up/fix-up time.

I seem to be a magnet for chaos. And the sad truth is that I always have been.

My sister, who had the larger middle bedroom of our childhood home, always seemed to have it together in every sense. She knew exactly where her pink sweater was, and could retrieve it within seconds.

My friend Joan had a closet in which dark colors were separated from light colors, and skirts were not in a jumble on the floor.

I, on the other hand, struggled to keep my life from capsizing into the murky waters of mess on any given day. By the time I was about 9, my father, who had been an expert in something called “time and motion study” during World War II, attempted to bring the message home to his younger daughter.

A patient man, my dad would spend hours with me valiantly trying to create order in the desk my parents had insisted on planting in my room. I know they hoped it would make the difference between disaster and triumph in my life, but minutes after everything had a place and was in it, my rogue tendencies would take over.

In college, I was the freshman who lost my registration materials, the sophomore who couldn’t keep track of my geology notes, the junior who was infamous for forgetting where I’d left my copy for the women’s newspaper, and the senior who was planning a wedding in notebooks presumably devoted to geology.

So, of course, I end up marrying a man who is not exactly a neat freak, but who has an uncanny ability to locate anything and everything that he possesses.

My husband has, in some ways, attempted to take over for my late father in getting me organized. We do periodic purges of my work table — and no, I don’t work at a desk because of the configuration of my home office. I work, instead, on a small surface that houses my computer, a lamp, about 2,000 post-it notes attached to every surface and a pen/pencil holder that is invariably stuffed with crayons from grandchildren’s art projects.

While other women dream of personal makeovers — hair, makeup, clothes — I dream of some replica of a fairy godmother swooping down and getting me organized. We’d start with my pocketbook, and end with the kitchen junk drawer. If this fairy godmother had any steam left, we’d get to those basement cartons we’d stashed away in the basement after our move…11 years ago.

So far, sad to say, that good lady has been missing in action.

But it’s spring, the season of hope.

And I’ve heard that good things come to those who wait. ••