House Cleaning   Leave a comment

The state of my desk at work notwithstanding, there is nothing I hate more than clutter.

This isn’t a metaphor for making sure my chi is balanced or my chakras are in alignment (if that’s what chakras do; I have no idea) or anything like that. It is a simple statement of fact. A messy house makes me cranky and much less pleasant to be around.

Small, stacked piles of things, I am good with, as long as they don’t completely cover the living and/or dining room tables – it’s usually and around here as I have son who seems to shed belongings as he moves through the house. But clutter? Clutter makes me crazy.  Good thing I’m not a Victorian.  Pictures of their houses make me shudder.

Which is why for the past three years I have been embarrassed by the bookcase in my living room.

I can see you all quirking an eyebrow at this statement. What does my bookcase have to do with clutter?

Let me tell you.

The first four shelves of my bookcase are filled with, well, books. It is organized in a system of my own devising that has nothing to do with Dewey Decimal or the Library of Congress. It puts my books in places where I can find what I want to read when I want to read it. There is a shelf of David Eddings, J.K. Rowling, and Rick Riordan, and another shelf dedicated to Shakespeare. (What can I say, I have eclectic tastes.)

The problem has been half of the fifth shelf and the entire bottom shelf.

The fifth shelf holds some of my comic books. Note I said ‘some’. (Yes, I read comic books as well as Shakespeare, and yes, the comic books in question are in neat piles. See the comment at the beginning of this post about stacked piles of things. It totally fits here.) Up until recently, the other half held my flute and stacks of envelopes. The bottom shelf held even more of those envelopes. Probably over a hundred.

And what was in those envelopes? Photographs.  Pictures of my old life.

One of the things you acquire after being with someone for twenty-five years is memorabilia. Nowadays, most of the memorabilia is digital, easy to ignore or block once a relationship is over. Not so much with photographs. They are both a visual and physical reminder of what existed, if even for one brief moment.

Needless to say, they have been cluttering up my bookshelf for the past three years because there was no way I was going to touch them – never mind look at them – and be thrown back to where I was when the bomb first fell. Even after I had my breakthrough four months ago, I didn’t want to chance it, so there they stayed.

Until a few weeks ago.

I was home from work unexpectedly, and was sweeping in the living room – because what else does one do with an unexpected day off but clean the house? – when I finally had enough. Trying to maneuver the bristles of the broom around the envelopes half-on and half-off the floor was both making me crazy and not collecting the sheddings from the long-haired cat.

I grabbed a plastic bag, sat on the floor, and started sorting.

Pictures went into three piles – okay, four once I started finding cute kitty pictures I wanted to show my son when he got home from school – his (which went in the bag), mine (which were stacked up neatly in a pile; please note the continuation of the theme), and who-knows-what-the-hell-this-is (which included shots of ceilings, blurry objects, and half-developed something-or-others and eventually ended up in the trash).

By the time I finished with the half-shelf (rescuing the flute in the process. No, I no longer play, and it’s really out of tune anyway.) I realized I was going to need a bigger bag for the pictures that were going away and got a paper grocery bag instead.

Then I tackled the wedding album. Pictures of my family stayed encased in plastic. (And boy, is it hard to get photos out of those albums.) Pictures of his, and there were some nice shots of my in-laws, went into the bag along with shots of his high school friends. I kept a few ones of us and us with our parents for my son to look at when he gets older. The rest went in the bag.

It wasn’t nearly as painful as I had feared it would be and took a lot less time than I thought.

Granted, if I had tried to accomplish this task early on in my recovery process, I am pretty sure I would have been a soggy mess by the end. More than pretty sure. Absolutely positive is a more accurate description. But now, I wasn’t. I was actually not only okay, but proud of myself for finally passing this milestone.

I put the bag of photos that were going by the door so my son could give them to his dad when he arrived to take him for dinner, packaged up the photos I was keeping in another grocery bag, and slid them on the now-empty bottom shelf of the bookcase. (Or at least I did once I had finally swept up all the cat hair and dusted the shelf with wood polish.)  Then I put the cat pictures on the dining room table where my son would find them and chucked the remainder.

It felt good.

For the first time in three years, I can look at the bottom shelves of my bookcase again and not freak. It’s kind of nice. I can also do a better job of keeping up with the cat hair on the floor. Which is also kind of nice, although kitty doesn’t seem to appreciate it the way I do.

Now, if I can just get the child to stop strewing objects all over the house and see how lovely neat piles of things can be, I’ll be getting somewhere. But I’m not holding my breath it will happen any time in the near future.

I guess some clutter I can live with.

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Posted October 12, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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