Having admitted that I am a fan of house TV, all those perfect TV houses make me think about what I really want in mine.
The first answer is – less than is in here right now.
Like a lot of people, I have too much stuff in too many places. Figuring out what actually fits and what doesn’t has become a job. A Job. One of the ones that becomes so big you no longer know how to do it, even if the composite parts are not exactly rocket science. See stuff, sort stuff, keep or remove stuff. Repeat. It’s the number of repeats, and figuring out where to put it while in the midst of the task, that become overwhelming.
So I’ve started small. Really small. Three drawers and a counter. Not exactly a big overhaul. But I did it. I took everything out. I put back only what belonged. I actually tossed a few things. And now these few small spaces are clean and organized and it’s a start. It’s amazing how just a little clean space adds to a sense of peace. I’d like more of that. The word I most want to associate with my house is “haven”. It’s not there yet.
It’s odd how the accumulated stuff seems to suck up energy – just looking at it pulls some of the spark out of me. I look. I can’t stand looking. I look away. I refuse to look back. And it continues to sit there. As you may have surmised, this is not the solution to the problem. At some point the stuff has to move. That point is getting closer, because I have people coming over in a couple weeks. Nothing like a little motivation.
Of course, it was a prior guest occasion that led to the burial of the guest bed sometime last summer. All that stuff had to vacate the front of the house, so it got hauled to the back and dumped on the largest flat surface available. I finally dug out that bed last month. I cleared the entire surface, found linens that had to be laundered, put away a big stack of travel clothes and found a winter peacoat that needed to be dry cleaned. So the linens were put in the laundry, the clothes were put away, and the coat went into a holding pattern in a “limbo” spot waiting for its trip to the cleaners. (Uh oh.)
Limbo spots are problematic. I have too many of them. They’re those places things go to “wait for” next steps. Whatever those are supposed to be. Usually they have to go someplace. “Someplace” is often not easy to get to – onto the shelves you can’t see in my office; into wrapping paper and into boxes and to the car and to the post office and into the mail; out to a donation place to be given away. Sometimes it’s even hard just to get the genuine junk into the trash. The urge not to “waste” stuff is a constant guilt poke. “Might” is a mighty hard word to get around.
On the other hand – the relief when I get one of these tasks done is almost overwhelming. Like when I just refolded and reorganized a drawer of lingerie and it instantly made more sense and less chaos. The pleasure of having just that bit of hidden space so nicely done is still like a little unexpected gift. I’d like more gifts like that. I’d like most of my drawers to have that sense – that sense that things fit with room to spare and room to cycle items in and out without requiring ten minutes and a crowbar; that sense of knowing what you have and being glad you have it.
I once told a friend that no one in their right mind would buy a horse without knowing exactly where they were going to keep it, but the same principle seems harder to apply to household items. I have managed to avoid purchasing kitchen counter appliances I don’t have a place for, but I am not so lucky where books and smaller items are concerned. I have so many horses (tiny horses, they’re only ponies, really…) in temporary housing, I can’t find the regular housing. This means that some form of re-stabling may be required. I actually did go through my bookshelves about six months ago. I challenged myself to find ten items that could go to work to be donated and even came up with a few more. I created a little room in one of the shelf units in the living room. And then that was that.
My house is still a work in progress. It is work. And there is occasionally progress. I can live with that.
Stay tuned for more on the Here’s a Quarter blog next week! As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome – they are moderated (I know – adulting again), so they may take a little while to appear, but I read them all and appreciate that you were here. Thank you!