6.21.2006

Out From Under



June 21st. First day of summer. Spring cleaning long overdue, but tossing out accumulated possessions has never been my forte. If I can’t find a new home for an item and it must go to the landfill, I shudder.

“So, you’d rather live with garbage in your home than live on top of it?” a friend once asked.

I never said my neurosis was logical.

However, I can no longer tolerate the state of my dorm-like bedroom, the repository of all the mismatched, hand-me-down furniture that has followed me from apartment to apartment. While I brought the rest of my condo up to adult standards in a remodel three years ago – at least in the way I would deem ‘adult’, full of funk and style, and everything with its own place – I’m allowing the clutter in my bedroom to bury me.


Along with the orphaned furniture, the room houses all that has never had a proper home – dusty T-shirts from my past emblazoned with logos of track meets, tennis tournaments, favorite bands, and movie-job memories; stacks of The New Yorker whose primary intrigue is the speed with which it multiplies; envelopes of photos not worthy of display, yet not deserving of the dumpster; gadgets whose usefulness vanished during the industrial age; old phone books and cassette tapes and VHS dubs of movies and extension cords and my son’s favorite baby toys and a few key college text books that for some reason appear to have meaning.

Clearly I have had this room to myself for too long.

I’ve always counted on a mate showing up and demanding some space, forcing my purge, sitting me down, and quizzing me on the necessity of the spare non-cordless phone where the five button doesn’t work.

“There could be a power outage, and we’d need it to call someone,” I would explain.

“As long as their number doesn’t contain a ‘five,’” he would retort.

“It would work for 911,” I would counter, clutching the yellowed plastic phone to my chest.

But I’d gleefully be talked out of all the other possessions I don’t have the strength to abandon on my own. The cords for cell phones long gone. The power converters for European excursions, even though all my traveling appliances are now dual voltage. Vegetarian magazines filled with recipes I will never cook. Design magazines filled with ideas I will never implement. The Drury area rug from my first post-college apartment rolled up and stashed under my bedroom chaise.

Aside from the landfill issue, I don’t understand my inability to say good-bye to the dust collectors. A friend once told me I must get rid of my wedding album in order to meet someone new. It had worked for her, and she insisted upon it. But I don’t agree. I don’t feel I have to erase my past to allow in a future. Where I’ve been has brought me to where I am. I rely on the photos and trinkets to nudge my memory, for I forget so much. And besides, with a son around, I want to be able to take him on the journey of my life, and the props serve as great visual aids.

But the clutter is another thing all together. It doesn’t foster memories; it just creates a swirl of chaos in my overburdened brain.

Walking back from the garbage chute, I wonder what the big deal had been, why I’d allowed the piles to remain tucked in the corners of my room for countless months. I feel lighter, and the growing emptiness around me allows in the breeze. It’s all just a start, but it feels so damn good.

1 comment:

ecm said...

I can SO relate to this! I am super cluttered...especially in the bedroom. Currently I have a closet spilling out into all corners of the room. And I actually have a mate who hates clutter, I'm trying but I am who I am. Your new bookshelf area looks great! For me it's just maintaining...