Authenticity? – As is the custom around this time of year, there are more parties due to the holidays than at any other time of year. I love hosting them, I love going to them, and I am reminded of my suppressed passion for finger food. My family came over this morning for brunch; Annie, my Mom and Dad, my two brothers, Nathan and Peter, and Kristin, Peter’s girlfriend, and my Grandma from Oregon. We had a great time catching up on things and we definitely missed Katie. But before everyone got here I did the routine cleaning and putting everything away and where it is actually suppose to go. Once my family was here there were a couple comments about how clean the apartment was and I was glad that they noticed. But, truth be told, it only looks like it does right now because people were coming over. During any other time of the week it is a tornado recovery site. Clothes laying right where I left them as I decided I was too busy to make the effort to drop them in the hamper. My dishes from three rushed breakfasts five cups of coffee, and four hurried dinners would normally still be in the sink. And of course there would be two trash cans full of trash shoved into one because getting out a new bag takes far too long. But for some reason, knowing that people are going to come over motivates me to clean up and put my best foot forward.

But who am I kidding. I know that Mom doesn’t actually think that I am this clean. I’m not! So the thought occurred to me that this is what we all do everyday in our relationships and friendships. When asked how we’re doing we have a canned response. “Fine.” “Good.” “Busy” (That’s everyone I know’s favorite. It releases us from any responsibility for what we have or have not done or what we were supposed to have done. If you say “busy,” then automatic forgiveness and understanding is expected.) We have the clean and tidy answers that we let fly as a Pavlovian conditioned response to the variety of ways we are asked the status of our world.

Why? Would it be awkward to have people over for dinner and not clean my place before they came? Would they leave and call me a slob? Or would they think it was cool that I was just being real and comfortable around them? If someone asked me how my day was and I responded with a hint of sadness or frustration because I had a rough day and my expectations of the day were not meet, would they feel like I was emotionally vomiting on them or would they listen and let me vent awhile?

Real friends and true relationships are scary. They put you in weird situations where you have no idea what to say or how to react to the brutal honesty that you’ve just been meet with. They make it awkward and uncomfortable to be anything but yourself and if you’re lying they know. But there is such a release in them that they are the heart cry of every person. They are the longing that we can all identify with. The ability to be real, not to be judged, to show our stripes, to be exactly who we are, no apologies. “To give someone the ability to crush you, but trust them enough not to.”

Out of politeness and respect for others I cleaned my apartment this morning. But because of love and authenticity I know I didn’t have to.