It took a week to clean my apartment — all 750 square feet of it.
Not your standard dust, mop, vacuum type of cleaning. This was an extreme version of spring (summer?) cleansing. I opened every drawer, cabinet, box, folder, container and closet, removed the contents, cleaned and replaced the lining paper, then looked over the contents before I decided whether to put them back — or drop them in my version of a recycle bin.
I come from a long, long line of packrats. My grandparents, survivors of the Great Depression, saved rubber bands from the newspapers, reused plastic bags until they were hopelessly ripped and would cross the street to pick up a stray penny. From my earliest days, the mantra of ‘you never know when you might need it’ was drilled into my brain. I was taught that, if someone gave you something, even if you didn’t intend to use it, you should hang onto it, both as a mark of respect for the gift and because “you never know” when it might become useful.
Despite that early training, I’ve made it a habit to regularly look over my possessions and discard the tattered, the outgrown, the no-longer-relevant items. Clothes that no longer fit, books I read once and that no longer interest me, papers from closed bank and credit accounts — all are regularly donated to charity, resold or shredded. But that only covers the things that I see and touch daily. It does nothing to deal with the creeping influx of gifts — those items presented with the best of intentions by well-meaning but often clueless-about-me individuals. Sweaters in bright patterns that I never wear, knick-knacks that I have no place to display, that fourth set of carving knives when I rarely entertain that way at home. And dutifully, I have placed them into drawers or storage in preparation for that mythical day when I’ll need a formal tea set for eight.
But this is the Blue Moon, and I am discarding the useless, the no-longer-wanted, the outgrown. And while I’ve been cleaning, removing those items that I will never, ever use from their hiding places, I have also been making a list of traits to discard, problems that I must deal with, circumstances that I want to change for a better life. For every funny coffee mug, multi-colored cardigan and cute stuffed animal I’ve tugged into the light of day, there’s a task I need to do, a place I want to see, a habit I must break.
In short, at the end of this process, I’ve created a massive Life To-Do List. I’ve exposed the bare bones of my apartment and my life, and now I at least know what resources I have to work with in building from here.
I also have an extremely-large pile of items for which a new home must be found, but that’s a task I’ll begin tomorrow. Along with more regular updating of this blog, with pictures, and some fun events, and my list of movies/tv shows/books That Must Be Digitized.
Oh, and a series on Knitting the Avengers.
Yes, I said that.