I 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…