Cleaning out my Drafts: Thoughts on Cleaning House

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI have a lot of odds and ends posts in the draft folder on my blog. Some are a few words. Others are a picture or two. Some are prose. Some are poetry. Some are almost complete and many are far from it. With the grandest of new year intentions, I recently decided that I’m going to dig into those drafts (all 100 of them) and trash or publish them. I may not be cleaning my house, but, darn it!, I’m going to try to get my blog in order. With that thought in mind, it felt particularly appropriate to revisit and finish this draft from last spring….

We’ve been cleaning house lately. Well, to be more precise, Kurt has been cleaning house and I’ve been protesting the process. It goes a bit like this:

“Molly, we have way too much crap! We have to get rid of stuff. Who needs all this stuff?”

“But I like this (insert item name here)! I might want it some day.”

What is this some day I’m waiting for?

So, we’ve been going through some closets and drawers and finding all sorts of things. Some pleasant, and some not so much (here). I pick and poke through things and Kurt fills boxes and bags with wild, frightening abandon. (And if you know Kurt, you’ll know that I am NOT exaggerating!)

Adeline has been visiting and she’s cleaning her room out, settling more firmly into her new life in Philadelphia. I watch her sift through her belongings. She tosses out this and that, and I have to stop my hands from grabbing so many things. From pulling them out of the pile.

Is this growing up made visible? Choosing what things have value and casting aside others. So many small items are imbued with so much memory and meaning.

So, while Kurt is wildly throwing out, recycling, reorganizing, I’m dragging my feet. This feels like empty nest on steroids. Stop!!! There’s enough change going on around here!

But then, some of it’s unexpectedly…nice…even rewarding. My son’s room has now been shoveled out and binned up. (“Molly, I don’t think Connor threw away a single paper while he was in high school!”) The totes and boxes still sit in the hallway (update–maybe some of them are still there…) and we’ve moved upstairs into his freshly painted (Thanks, Kurt!) room. It’s lovely. I hadn’t realized…

How much do I miss because I’m allowing clutter to overtake everything? Am I limiting new experiences because I’m clinging to old ones?

But I don’t want to get rid of everything! And even though I know that no one is asking me to do that, that’s what it feels like at times. At the very least I want that special box–the one that holds all the best carefully selected stuff attached to the best memories–the one I can open when some imaginary grandchildren are visiting someday.

I imagine saying, “Here’s Bear. He was your dad’s favorite stuffed animal and traveled all over with us. He used to be white, but he got covered with love.” or

“Your dad used to make us read this dictionary to him over and over. He loved it! We always had to start at “a for abacus” because that was the first picture.” or

“This is John Smith. Your dad had so much fun playing with him. He made up all sorts of adventure stories.”

And in this imagined world, this imagined grandchild picks up the figure, or the stuffed animal, or the book, and completes a circle.

Perhaps my wild grab at all these “things” is an attempt to capture and hold on to the more elusive things–the laughter, the hum of young voices, their childhood years, my “youth.” Perhaps it’s an effort to be prepared for every future eventuality.

But perhaps the letting go is how I make room for more–for unexpected pleasures, for new realizations.  And perhaps it’s also an acknowledgement that I can’t be prepared for every change that lies ahead. So, with all this in mind, I may continue to drag my feet, but I’ll also take another box or two to the recycling barn. And with every item we give away, I will still be aware of that link to the past or the potential link to the future. I’ll still hear those whispers in my mind: I remember when…These were my mother’s … I might want this…. I might need this. I might….But I’ll touch each thing and let it go. Slowly, but surely.

Addendum: Just this past Sunday, Kurt uttered those dreaded words again, “Molly, I’m going to start getting rid of stuff!” And so I cycle through the whole process again…

14 thoughts on “Cleaning out my Drafts: Thoughts on Cleaning House

  1. TammyB says:

    Change is hard even when we want it! I go through cycles myself of holding onto items and then wanting to purge everything. Hopefully, you will find a balance in your house. I went through a period where I got rid of one thing per day – I started with the closet which seemed the easiest for me. Good luck and happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’ve never been a fan of change and have to struggle not to knee-jerk react negatively. Choosing to remove some clutter from my life is a good thing. (I just need to repeat that a few more times to fully believe it!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I struggle with this myself. I think it is a wonder to go through saved drafts to see what will grow into a completed piece. As for stuff, this was thought provoking for me…”Is this growing up made visible? Choosing what things have value and casting aside others. So many small items are imbued with so much memory and meaning.” Maybe it is time for me to “grow up”, even though I have already had decades of birthdays!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda Potts says:

    Mmm… this brings up so many feelings for me. My children are still very firmly in the house, but your description of the imaginary conversations, the “elusive” things is incredibly apt. Like you, I want to hold on to things that link me to the memories, and yet I have to let them go. Thanks for so clearly showing the back and forth of the cleaning out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You and I are such kindred spirits, Molly! I know where my 37-year old son’s first pair of sneakers are packed and have more picture books in my attic than an army of grandchildren could ever read. This summer…
    Good luck with your cleaning efforts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I try to remind myself how good it feels to be in an uncluttered space. Sometimes that can give me a burst of motivation. For me the process is not particularly linear or logical though…


  5. mgminer says:

    It’s so weird how couples are often polarized on the “stuff” issue. Very familiar!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the conversational feel to your posting. I feel like I am there with you and Kurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      If you were here, Dan, you’d notice that Kurt is a wee bit frustrated with my lack of progress in the decluttering project. Maybe I need to give it a fancy name or something?


  7. Perfect, just perfect. I’m the one who’s trying to declutter, and yet I’m the one who holds on with the tightest anguish. Top practical tip which surely you have invented for yourself: TAKE PHOTOS. I have a folder on my computer called THINGS WE USED TO OWN and I file them there. Sometimes I have printed out ordinary run-of-life photos with a big margin and filled that space with annotations about the objects so that it’s all on one page, a 2D time capsule. Writers DO need this stuff, I’ve discovered, just perhaps not in person!


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