If you’re anything like me, a neat-freak, you abhor mess and grime. Yet despite your hatred and diligence against these interlopers, your home inevitably gets dirty. Hence the necessity for Spring Cleaning.
I’m horribly behind this year. It’s mid-August and I just dusted and reorganized my bookshelves. I have one excellent reason for my tardiness and one excuse. The latter involves time, I haven’t eked out time to tackle my spring cleaning chores around work and other obligations. The former involves an even larger cleaning project: de-junking my basement.
Over the weekend of July 25th and 26th, my mom and I hauled every piece of junk out of the basement to a large garbage bin we’ve been hounding my dad to rent for months. My mom and brother also cleared out the junk that’s been filling up our yard too. No, we’re not hoarders, this is pretty routine when you have a carpenter for a father. They like to collect things.
I need to go back a bit further in this story. I’ve lived in my current house for about seven years now. For one reason or another I didn’t anticipate staying here very long, so initially I didn’t unpack much of my stuff. On top of that, my dad likes to move in a frenzy. We usually do it ourselves over the course of two days. It’s horrible. And it means you pack all the garbage you’d normally set aside and toss.
Right now I live in the basement, along with the all the crap my dad doesn’t want to store in his workshop. I can usually deal with it, but every now and then I take a long look and get fed up. This has happened in four waves over the past few years.
The first wave happened after I finished high school. I was ready to move into the next phase of my life. I wanted to organize myself, and that usually involves organizing my environment. I got my mom and brother involved and we rearranged the major pile taking up the most space. There were still heaps of junk, but I had room to use my treadmill and a bit of walking space. I was content.
The second wave happened after my brother left home. His room was left in such a state that my mom and I couldn’t repair it on our own, so I decided we should make it a storage room. Around this time I also adopted my cats and was having nightmares about them getting into my dad’s powders or cutting themselves on an errant tile. I consulted with my mom and started hauling stuff into the room soon after. Not all of it would fit, but I crammed the majority in there. Granted, there was a pile of stuff left out that was 100% garbage and all my personal stuff that I wasn’t ready to go through. Again, I was placated.
Between then and the next wave, I had to teach everyone that an empty space doesn’t need to be filled with more stuff. We’ve reached a happy truce.
The third wave happened a few months ago, after I got the idea from a neighbour that what we really needed was to rent one of those huge bins people usually reserve for their renovation garbage. We couldn’t afford it at the time, plus my mom and I wouldn’t have had time off work to do all of the hauling, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to be prepared. I pulled on my big girl pants and went through 90% of the boxes I hadn’t unpacked since we moved when I was 11. That was a rough time for me and not something I’m willing to go into. Suffice it to say, it’s taken me 13 years to feel emotionally stable enough to confront the stuff in those boxes.
There was so much treasure to be found, and so many things I was more than ready to let go of. I set aside all of the old writing I found which is both inspiring and embarrassing. That was a long day emotionally and physically, so I did what I could.
July marked the fourth wave. And the final one for a while. I went through the last 10% of my stuff, which was a lot easier to handle than the first 90% because it was mostly clothes. The basement has designated areas now! There’s so much space, it’s incredible. But there’s still a lot of stuff I need to find a storage area for because I can’t let it go.
I’m sure you noticed the symbolic catalyst to each wave. Something momentous happened and my eyes were opened to my environment and I decided I needed to better it. Plus cleaning is usually my response to stress.
Writers really are as sensitive as they say. I like to ignore my sensitivity but that doesn’t make it any less palpable. Yet I feel that having tackled my past I am much more ready to focus on my future, and of course I feel strongly that my future is writing.
I needed to let go, to delve into my own depths, to see if I could. Maybe confronting difficult things will help me be a better writer. Perhaps having less baggage will do that trick. All I know is that now that the physical clutter is finally gone, my mental clutter seems better organized.
Thanks for reading! Writing this out is part of the catharsis and I appreciate you bearing with me.