Last weekend we were at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, Massachusetts. Incredible gardens, glorious view, rockers on the front porch. You know what I also loved about the Harbor View? Empty drawers. Spending a weekend not surrounded by my stuff is fantastic. Because at home I’ve got stuff coming out my ears, and it’s driving me crazy.
I’m fairly tidy and I like to keep the house looking nice. If you drop in for an unexpected visit, you won’t immediately notice the clutter. But whatever you do, don’t open a closet door. And don’t open the cabinets in the kitchen. And don’t look in the cupboards in the laundry room. You will not be impressed with what you find there, and you may not be able to close them up again.
I’ve lived in this house longer than I’ve ever lived in a single place since I left Charlotte to go to college. The problem is that when I was moving around more, I used every move as an excuse to clean things out — streamlining closets, sorting through papers, and generally tossing things as I went. With no moves, there’s been very little streamlining, and it is really starting to catch up with me. I have boxes and closets and cabinets full of stuff that I don’t want, don’t need, and may possibly not even remember.
Living with Matt doesn’t help either. He keeps everything. I asked him to go through a box of old things and he pulled out a VHS tape of a Virginia basketball game from 1990. He watched it, enjoyed it, and took this as an indication that the entire box should be saved. John won’t get rid of anything either. Any toy he sees in a giveaway pile is suddenly his absolute favorite toy, especially if he hasn’t shown any interest in the past twelve months. We’re creating a museum in here. If I stay on this path, I’m going to end up on some intervention reality show.
I do think that some things should be saved. I have the first blue Keds that John wore, toes worn smooth from crawling, and I’ll always keep them. I have letters from my grandmother, a prom dress that my mom made me, and a raggedy ann doll who may have more patches than original cloth. They’ll stay and be cherished.
But I also have the feeling that my house is closing in on me these days. I fantasize about having week at home alone, a dumpster in the driveway, and carte blanche from the family to get rid of anything I want. Without asking. That isn’t likely to happen, of course. I think I can (and maybe will) do a better job of finding time and energy to weed things out and create some empty spaces. So we can fill them right back up again.