I don’t know how it is we got here- owning twos and threes of things… letting things pile up… having to rearrange endlessly… I just know it has to stop. The four half-empty bottles of dishwashing detergent under the sink, the natural remedies and prescription drugs with 2009 expiration dates on them in a basket in the linen closet, socks with no mates that keep making it into the laundry rotation somehow… It all needs to end. 2011 is it.
The first thing I thought when I stepped into my apartment after being on the East Coast for nearly two weeks was “Good lord, is it cluttered in here”. I had not considered myself a cluttered person before, but my life and all its distractions suddenly came into sharp relief in the few moments it took my eyes to scan the room. Granted, we did leave the house a holy mess before we left, and granted, we really hadn’t had any time in the month of December to do any deep cleaning, but…. But. It’s all about the buts, isn’t it? There was always something keeping me from my real life.
Suddenly all my kitsch, my thrift/antique store aesthetic, it all became so garbage-like to me. Every surface was covered with something… something I had thought cute or necessary in the moment but which later just became one more thing to dust, to file away.
I’m not a decorate-it-once-and-walk-away kind of gal. I like my home to be a work in progress. I like it cozy, and I like it to tell a story, and I like that story to change as my life changes. But, I also like peace and quiet. And somehow this house has become a cacophony of to-do lists. And that doesn’t feel good at all. While I don’t particularly fancy the classic stylings of our East Coast families, I can see the merit now in just setting it up and letting it be. There is simplicity in having just one serving bowl, just eight mugs, and just two sets of sheets, however color coordinated it all is.
It all started with Burdy cleaning out the fridge on Sunday morning. He threw away the leftovers and tore everything out and scrubbed the inside of that thing for an hour. And oh my god what a difference a sponge makes. Opening that door first thing on Monday morning made my heart sing. And then it made me wonder: how long was that fridge THAT dirty? How long has it been since I’ve really lifted up the carpet of my life and taken a good hard look at all things I’ve hurriedly shoved underneath?
How many times have I moved the shaker top from that spice jar from the windowsill to the countertop and back again? How long has that bottle of blue chamomile been sitting in that tiny box in my nightstand? How long was it going to be before I finally got rid of those slippers with the hole in them? I’ve been living with this DustBowl survivor’s mentality for so long, this mindset that demands I scrimp and save and never throw anything away until I’ve used the holy hell out of it. I forgot to take notice of my actual surroundings. I do not want for anything. I have plenty of food. My house is warm. I have clothing, and shoes, and a computer that doubles as a TV. Right now, as I type this, I am staring at my fruit bowl, which contains a pomegranate. A pomegranate! In the middle of winter! Whatever storm caused me to lower my head and pull the collar of my coat tight against my chest has passed. Funny how, though my life has dramatically improved since then, I’ve stayed stuck in this position all these years.
So, I’m not starting out 2011 with any grandiose resolutions. I’m starting it with mini-cleaning binges. I’m shooing the bats from the belfry, as it were, clearing out the cobwebs, making the place feel fresh again. I want to go through all those corners in the house I haven’t visited in a while and pack up and donate everything that keeps me from writing more and worrying less. I’m not into wastefulness; this won’t be frenzied. This is an opportunity to share, to give away. This is a great gift, this ability to see again. I have a feeling I am going to find dusty pieces of myself amidst all this clutter, and, at the end, I might just feel whole again.