It’s been there, waiting. Behind closed doors, lurking. Conveniently ignored most days, yet silently beckoning for attention. It is…our home office closet. Or, more appropriately named, The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away. A depository for a bizarre mix of buried treasure – everything from a few old toys and games my son played with in his youth alongside early school projects, to formal dresses and suits hung in protective covers, a whole box of various DVDs and CDs, stationery and envelopes, files that wouldn’t fit in the file drawer, stuff cleaned out of my old work desk, a cassette boom box – and oh, look, there’s even some fluffy bird-like marionette puppet tangled and hanging in the corner.
This is the kind of dark portal to nowhere that always lands on the “some day” list. Every time I’ve opened the door in search of a business envelope, or in the hopes of cramming in one more item for which I have no other home, I have sighed and thought “we really need to clean this out.” And I say “we”, because the contents are truly a mix of things that originally belonged to everyone in the household. Except the dog, I don’t think I’ve found any of his stuff, but you never know. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a chewed tennis ball in a back corner. Each time I have groaned at the daunting task, I’ve pushed an item in further with my foot and closed the doors. Even when we purged the house for tag sale items this past summer, we still didn’t seem to find the strength to tackle this closet.
Well, guess what, it is a new year. A time to clean and sort and renew, right? Plus my husband has started a new business, and really needs some useable space in our shared home office room. The other day we proudly sorted and reorganized the file drawers and desktop surfaces of the room, including setting him up with nifty file organizers and finding him space to actually work. Until…..(que the music from Jaws), we opened The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away. The time has come.
Some wisdom does come with age, and we both realize this will not be a quick project. We agreed that if we were willing to put up with a bit of mess for a week or two, we would whittle away at it, pile at a time. We dragged out the boxes of who-knows-what to be sorted through, and started taking the odd assortments down off the shelves. I soon realized the challenge is not really in the cleaning out itself, it is in the “what do we do with it” quandry…. which is why most of this stuff was put in there in the first place.
Over the years, we have greatly reduced, sold, and donated much of my son’s childhood toys and games. But in this closet were some of the classics we just haven’t wanted to part with: the games of Battleship, Blokus, Life and Trouble. Buzz Lightyear and Woody are in there – and we know how sad they would be if they got sold or tossed out, I mean you’ve seen the movies, right? There’s a whole box of files for the instruction manuals and warrantees for home equipment like our refrigerator and generator. Too big for the file drawer, but should be kept. Training documents from past jobs – will I ever need those again? The sweet condolence cards I received when my Dad passed away nearly three years ago…. And my husband’s pile of Corvette magazines. Toss? Keep? Oh, my, perhaps this won’t be so easy. Things have got to go… but where?
Neither my husband or I are especially good at letting go. I hold onto stuff for sentimental reasons. He holds on to anything that might possibly at some point have ANY practical purpose for re-use. This is not a good combination for trying to live simply. I admire the women I listen to who valiantly discard anything they haven’t used in a year. I envision their homes as being clean and open, free of clutter. Yet I take heart in the many Real Women I know who are similar to me. One of the RW’s in my life as a matter of fact posted something on Facebook recently about a clean-out she was attempting in her house, and how she could not bring herself to throw away her daughter’s first pair of walking shoes. See? I’m not alone! Buzz and Woody can stay!
In the end, I know we will be really happy when we manage to get the closet switched over from The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away to a Handy And Useful Reference Area. Besides, if I’m really lucky, I’ll open up a whole big shelf to which I can move in some of my scrapbooks that are over-flowing from a nearby bookshelf. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must turn away from my happily organized desk, take a deep breath, face the portal, and make some decisions. If you don’t hear back from me, please send help. Preferably armed with a bottle of wine.