Thursday, March 08, 2007

Free the Clutter!

Over the years I have come to realize that I am somewhat of a packrat. Due to being a sentimental soul, I have a large stash of letters saved, starting from the time my family moved across the country (age 14). Due to moving across the country (and back) again after graduating college and not being able to take all my stuff AND then not getting back to it later, I still have lots of clothes and other things at my parents' house. In my own house there are many, many things I do not use. Some of them I save for sentimental reasons, some because "I might need them later," and some just because for some reason I am not ready to let go of them.

Here I am at my parents' house this week, and while it is a neat and tidy, they have a lot of stuff as well. But the real eye-opener to my packratty nature did not come until the second day we were here.

Sweet Pea had been running around outside playing, but came back in because she was looking for Grandpa and thought he might be in the house. I told her I thought he was down by the barn, hooking up a sprayer to his tractor (turned out to be his itty bitty tractor mower instead) so he could spray his fruit trees. I told her I would walk down with her and show her the barn and she could see what Grandpa was doing.

As we walked by the back of the house we heard a noise and looked, and there came Dad, walking out of the garage. Sweet Pea pointed to the doorway and said, "I want to go there, to the dirty place!" Dad and I both had a good laugh and then I took her in and showed her the tiny, extremely cluttered and dusty bathroom that is in the garage (it has a toilet, a big wash tub, and a tiny window, all in a corner of the garage, closely surrounded by primered drywall, with a sliding wooden door). Then we looked at Mom's car and Dad's car and some of the things in between.

Her curiosity was quickly sated in the garage so we went back outside and walked down the hill to the barn. The garage door on one end of the barn was open so I asked if she wanted to look inside. She nodded and we walked in about two feet and looked around. She wanted to know where the animals were. I laughed. That is what you would think would be in a barn, wouldn't you? But no. "This barn," I told her, "is for... stuff." I had never really thought about it that way, but it is true.

We looked around. Dad's old pickup truck (which was already old and run down when he bought it 10 or so years ago) sat rusting amongst my grandmother's furniture, which is covered but still just sitting, unceremoniously, abandoned in the barn. My dad's seafoam green 1963 Pontiac Catalina, scene of many a family vacation and squabble and singalong (imagine 6 of us on 2 hot, vinyl-covered bench seats, often driving 8 hours per day at the start and end of a trip) sits gleaming, beautiful for its age but not running, amongst the cobwebs.

There is a huge orange tractor which I have never seen my dad use. I'm sure he got a "good deal" on it and figured he'd use it around his 5 acres, but I don't think it has seen the light of day since it got abandoned with the rest of the memorabilia in the barn. The old red Troy Built rototiller is stashed in as well, along with the ancient green shredder, old 2x4s, and a large wooden garden cart with bicycle wheels.

Upstairs - yes, there is an upstairs over half the barn, but it can only be reached by way of a very long ladder - there is more old furniture and lord knows what else.

Sweet Pea took a look around but once she saw the cobwebs, she turned and ran. She is petrified of cobwebs - I have no idea why. Slipshod and I do not react to them, so she didn't learn it from us.

I walked away with a little forgiveness for myself. How can I help but collect clutter when getting rid of it was never modeled for me? Obviously we have to take personal responsibility at some age for these things, but if you don't grow up with a behavior, it can take you many years to figure things out for yourself.

However - my mom has been going through the house and the garage for the past few years, sorting through things cabinet by cabinet, box by box, and getting rid of stuff right and left.

I have been trying to at least do a little bit per day at my house, though some days are better than others. It's a long process, since some of this stuff I have from childhood.

Today I think I will work on the things in "my" closet here at Mom and Dad's.

1 comment:

Dana said...

I have so much clutter, too! I even clean it up every few months only to have it pile up again!!!