I carry toothpaste and floss and wipes. I wash my hands a lot because when they feel sticky, I feel mad. I launder my bras with increasing regularity – in my 20s I could easily have worn one 20 times before it saw a washing machine but now it’s more like three times. I even hand-wash sweaters so they don’t get that deodoranty scent; the precursor to BO. I have started to clean my make-up brushes all the time when, time was, I’d let all the bristles fall out and get a new one rather than showing them some soap. My sheets are washed at least once a week and my towels twice.
None of this is to do with germs or house-pride or vanity. I just want to be clean. I need to be clean. If I feel at all grubby or stinky or dirty then it is as though I am starting to decay. I need to feel shower fresh at all times and, rather than representing the beginning of some kind of obsessive disorder, I think it is a direct reaction to a sense of physical vulnerability; loss of skin elasticity, starting to get preoccupied with my teeth. That kind of thing.
Once the freshness of youth has faded then the best I can do is glow with hygiene and sanitation. If I no longer look like a peach then at least I smell like one. Staleness is scary. It feels like the physical manifestation of irrelevance. Clean and serene. Well, clean and really quite insane, but you know what I mean….