Holy Space

Recovering Nomad – The Art of Cleanliness

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After so much time traveling, I was ready for a home, and for a variety of reasons, New York called my name. I have many good and not as good friends here, and for the first time in forever I feel at home.

I knew New York from visits over the years, but wanted to see nuances of the different neighborhoods before settling in for the duration. I read an article in the New York Times which chronicled the idea of temporary stints in neighborhoods. This fit with my mindset, so I began to “date” a few neighborhoods to see if we were compatible. I first landed in the East Village, which while diverse, made me feel really old among the college kids. My sublease ended and after a brief trip to Arizona, I found a place in Chelsea, at least until the end of May.

Flying back, I went straight from the airport to what was to become my new home. My landlady greeted me and handed over the keys to the castle. The light was dim, I was tired and expecting a friend to come pick me up. I looked around the apartment, and not sure whether things were dirty or just old, must have made a face.


My Bad Luck With Toilets Extends to Trindade, Brazil – An Unwelcome Guest

My landlady must have picked up on it and she said, “it might not look like it, but everything is clean,” before abruptly leaving.

Right on cue my buddy dropped in a few minutes later. He had to take a leak, and went into the bathroom. A high-pitched scream broke the silence and, after he had stowed everything away, I rushed to see what the problem was. The toilet looked like there was something growing in it, and with a more thorough search of the property I quickly realised how filthy the place actually was.

Dare I say, it almost beat my Miami experience into second place.

In 2006, I moved into a place on the Venetian Causeway and discovering that it was filthy, I found a maid on Craigslist.

When my “maid” arrived, it was clear that she was intending to clean different pipes than those I had in mind. Her dress code coupled with lack of cleaning supplies probably should have raised the alarm bell.

Nevertheless, we shot off to the grocery store, bought a few cleaning products and returned to the task at hand. It became clear pretty quickly that my new accomplice didn’t know how to clean, so sadly I had to send her back to her day job (which you might be able to guess).

The first few days in my Chelsea home would require a significant amount of work before I would feel comfortable settling in. In the past, when I’ve been down, depressed or sensed my spiritual compass was out of whack, I’ve used the cleaning and organization of my home space as a coping mechanism – a form of therapy as I cultivate a place to make my living arrangements more comfortable and conducive to meditation and yoga practice. Here, before I could even think of nesting, it was clear to me that godliness was impeded by a severe lack of cleanliness.

Rather than risk another Miami experience through outsourced housekeeping, I took on cleaning responsibilities alone. This time, I went whole hog, determined to make my Chelsea pad something to be proud of.

In other words, I bought a sponge I saw pitched on ‘Shark Tank’.

cleaning up chelsea apartment nyc
Time To Get My Hands Dirty in Chelsea, NYC

A few days after chipping the grime off the toilet, disinfecting the stove and a bunch of other chores that kept adding up, I was back in action – mojo in order.

Later in the week when my landlady came over, she asked for my cleaning secret. My dazzling reveal was dampened somewhat when she also questioned the strange tool I had been using for the floor. I soon educated her on how a mop is used. Mind. Blown.

The conditions are now up to my standards, all helping to make my experience much more fulfilling. I enjoy advancing my own practice of yoga and meditation – disciplines which I can only appreciate when my physical environment is a reflection of my desired mental state – simple and clean.

I’ll be providing more anecdotes in future blog posts (cleaning stories at a minimum!) as well as information about my quest to get spiritual answers to the big questions.

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