I spent several hours last week cleaning house. This was no ordinary tidying up, however. This was a full-scale onslaught against the clutter that continuously threatens to overtake my office.
You see, my office is more than an office. It is the room that houses my treadmill, my scrapbook supplies, all of our frequently needed files and many boxes of keepsakes. It also is the room to which any item without a definitive home gets taken, especially if my husband is in charge of the cleanup that day.
His position is it is better that unruly, homeless items are kept upstairs in one room where no one can see them, thereby allowing the remainder of the house to remain mostly habitable and somewhat visitor-ready. My position is if we can’t state an immediate use for it or a place to put it, then maybe the garbage can is the best solution.
Despite this lack of unity on what constitutes housecleaning, many items get taken to storage in the dark recesses of my office. There they lay until the clutter drives me nearly insane, and I gather my weapons of choice. This is usually several garbage bags and the broom and dustpan.
Last week was no different. I started tossing items into the garbage bag the minute my husband’s truck went down the driveway for the day. If I hadn’t used it – or thought about it – in six months, it was leaving the house for good.
Into the bag went the picture frame that had fallen and now had cracked glass. Into the sack went the kids’ old banks that we had put up for them, just in case. In went a few old binders, a half a package of Pull-Ups my youngest child stopped needing years ago, used notebooks with the wire bindings all bent up, and some unmated socks that we will never find the matches for. In went a few of these and a little of that, until the sack was full.
After a while, there were several full bags and several empty shelves. In the process, I found something I hadn’t seen in months – namely the floor. I discovered some things that deserved to have a place on the shelves that had been buried. (What else I discovered is that we are only a few steps shy of our own “Hoarders” episode.)
When my husband came back home, he was shocked. After I reassured him the items I tossed weren’t from his childhood, he was reassured. After I convinced him that he wouldn’t miss any of the items since he couldn’t even name what was gone, he was pleased.
The room will practically sparkle for a while, and then, the clutter will slowly seep back in. After a few busy months, my clear floor space will dwindle down to little more than a path. The excesses from the rest of the house will be stored upstairs once more. It is a cycle that repeats itself as surely as the sun rises and sets each day.
And equally as certain is the fact that another day when my husband is out, I will gather my tools and battle the clutter again. Not so certain is whether his childhood mementos will continue to make the cut.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.