The So-Called Curse of Being a “High-Maintenance” Woman — By Lydian Shipp
Guanajuato Mexico North America

The So-Called Curse of Being a “High-Maintenance” Woman — By Lydian Shipp

I like for my bedding to be clean and tidy. I like to cook my own food the way I want to cook it. And I’d rather not use cosmetics that use ingredients that are designed to kill me slowly. I prefer to be in charge, or at least have some degree of control when I’m not completely in charge. And I feel bad for these things sometimes. Like opinions and preferences are wrong or something.

It sometimes seems to me like the rest of my peer group doesn’t give a crap about these sorts of things… like they don’t have the same kind of strong opinions or preferences for anything. And I guess maybe the don’t… or maybe they’re just for different things? There’s a part of me that admires the people who seem to not have as many of these preferences, the people who can pick up and go whenever and stay anywhere. The people who can go to dinner parties and not have to explain their thousands of “allergies” to their hosts while trying not to piss everyone off about the fact that, yes, all they’re having of the wonderful pot roast is a few sticks of celery sitting off to the side and some orange juice (yes, please, gimme that blood sugar). What would it be like to be invited to your best friend’s family’s Thanksgiving dinner and not feel compelled to bring your own plate of food with your own slab-o-turkey?

Kathmandu wasn’t a particularly clean destination, but the people were incredibly friendly and the things I needed to make myself comfortable were there all around me when I looked. The bed I slept in at night was hard, but it was clean. Despite the chaos around me, by being able to come home to someplace clean and safe that had a functional kitchen and bathroom, I was quite happy in Nepal.

I thought I was picky with food before. Now I’m concerned because what if I stay somewhere else from my parents and I don’t have a STEAMER??? Jesus Christ… then I’ll boil my goddamn food! I’ll survive. I suppose I could eat rice.

Does this sound crazy? You wouldn’t be the first person to think it does. Most people are nice enough to not say anything, but honestly… who brings their own Thanksgiving dinner or frets about the exact way in which to cook their food? Most people worry about things like just obtaining food at all, by whatever means. Sometimes I think it would be cool if I could stay in hotels and then wander down to the restaurant and order a Little Happy. Maybe some spaghetti and marinara sauce, or a stir-fry. And then, for dessert, I’d have some strawberry cheesecake. And perhaps a brownie.

I would never do that, of course. But see, this is what I’m talking about! Is this High and Mightiness? Is it that I’m a High Maintenance Woman? Yeah, maybe. Maybe.

About 2 years ago, before we moved to Mexico, I decided I wanted to try out some new shades of lipstick (don’t judge me, I was 16 and saw the chance). So one day at the new Walmart in Ogallala, my mom helped me pick out a few that would suit my complexion. And I was so damn excited. I could barely wait until I got home to try them out (but I did anyway, because that’s the right thing to do). About 3 days later, my mom saw some compelling evidence that convinced her that we needed to do an overhaul on our beauty routine. She showed me her compelling evidence from her black comfy chair in our downstairs living room in the Old School, and with my back turned to the bathroom where my Brand New Lipstick was, I felt mildly upset. I completely agreed with her evidence that she’d found. We needed to do an overhaul. But I was still sad about the lipstick.

And I won’t lie, I think about lipstick and eyeshadow and other Fun Girl Things like that every once and a while. I think about the excitement of getting a new shampoo that smells different from the last one, or how giddy I felt when I bought my very first bottle of perfume (bought to “imprint” on a boy I liked at the time… I can still smell the perfume, I must have accidentally imprinted on myself rather than him). But, my health and well-being is more important to me than the Fun Girl Things. So, I gave up the lipsticks. Into the trash the Brand New Lipstick went.

I remember there was a time when I wouldn’t worry about having enough shampoo bars for a 3-month trip. We took some shampoo with us, and if we needed more, we went and bought more. Simple. Easy. Low maintenance.

But is this kind of “low maintenance” really all that low maintenance? I mean, I suppose when you’re all young and supple, yes, technically it is. But what about when you get older and you need special products to take care of your skin, since the products you used when you were young have destroyed it? Or when all the various bad things in the food you eat (don’t get me started) catch up with you and you end up overweight or with cancer? Is that still low maintenance?

So okay, the things you put on and in your body are important. Slightly more work in the moment, but I can see that it pays off in the long term. That’s why I do these things (steaming/boiling food and getting special beauty products). But what about the desire for a clean bed? Or a safe area of town?

The desire for a safe area of town is somewhat easy to answer, I guess. I’m a female, and I’m young. And even if I wasn’t young and/or female, I’d still want to be in a safe part of town. Because it’s safe. If I want something edgy and a bit wild, I’ll go find something that suits my tastes but that isn’t likely to kill me or maul me somehow. I’d rather not be highly vigilant about the possibility of being killed, mauled, or otherwise traumatized while I’m walking home shortly after dark or in the morning when I go for my jog (or at any other time). And especially not when I’m traveling. I have other things I’d like to put my brain on during a trip, thank you very much.

The clean bed thing seems like the most daunting thing to answer. It’s gross to sleep in a dirty bed. Yes. It is. But how does it affect me? Well… I don’t know what diseases the last person to sleep in this bed had. Does that sound bad? Like I think everyone is all dirty or something? I don’t… there are actually quite a few people that after they leave our vacation rentals, I take a look at their room and at the sheets and find that it’s actually exceptionally clean. I wouldn’t want to necessarily, but it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to climb into the sheets after the vast majority of these people that come to stay with us. So why then does clean and tidy bedding matter so much to me?

Egypt wasn’t the absolute safest place to travel, at least not maybe in comparison with someplace like Europe, but Egypt is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s not a kind of unsafe that I can’t handle. There are places in Egypt that are safe and places that aren’t. And travelling with my parents to Egypt is safer than travelling there by myself. I wouldn’t want to pass up this cool place for it not being “Safe.”

There are some situations (like moldy beds and pillows) that are unforgivable. That makes sense that I’m not cool with those situations. But then there are the ones that are forgivable. I think. If I thought that my bed had been slept in before me when I got to a vacation rental, I’d wash the sheets. I don’t know why I care so much, but I do. It’s important to me. And I suppose that’s okay.

I haven’t had anyone call me high-maintenance yet. And I don’t really think I ever will. I’m opinionated and I have a particular way that I like things to be (although this particular way is actually a pretty decent sized spectrum of options). So what? I also know how to take care of myself and my particular ways, and I do it without imposing my problems onto the people around me. I don’t expect a host in a shared room situation to cook me food the way I want it cooked (since I know it’s a tall order), but I do expect, or at least hope, that I’ll have access to a kitchen and appliances that I can use to do what I need to do. I’m actually pretty low maintenance, even despite all the particularities that I’m working with. And I have a damn good reason for all of my particularities.

Except the clean and tidy bedding thing. I don’t really have a super good reason for that. I just like it that way.

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