I have been cleaning out my house. I’m not going anywhere, as far as I know, but the accumulation of years has been an source of frustration. You see, I am not fond of tidying up. I make messes, and I do my best to deal with the immediate things, after cooking, for example. I can’t wake up to dirty dishes and mess like that. And I actually do like to have a defined place for things. I have a lot of things, though.

To be honest, this is not the first time I have tried to tackle this issue. My kitchen, for example, is a place where I like to have order and functionality. There are very few days in my world where I don’t cuss the former owners of my house, who put in cheap cabinets in bad places. I would rip them all out, but I know what happens when I get in that kind of a mood and start pulling things apart. Disruption is all fine and good if you have a reconstruction plan, and that is always my challenge. I have come to terms with the kitchen for now, and it is not the disaster it could be. Cleaning out the old cake mixes and cranberry sauce is not such a bad practice, and I did put new shelves in a closet that improved the situation. Still, there is the rest of the house…

Over the years, a child of mine might ask me for an item, say, poster board. I have poster board. I know I have it. I could never find it, and in the end, we still ended up running to AC Moore for another package. Of course, I never bought just one, but had extra for that next time. And so it went, for years. I have amazing things, like a stapler, a hole punch, origami paper. Scotch tape! I have them all over the house. Or had. Right now, those items are in a stack in one place. You see, I am finally organizing.

I used to have a job where I did a lot of home visits. Quite a few people I saw were suspected of hoarding, and sometimes it was impressive. I did see homes with mazes of boxes piled floor to ceiling with small paths to get to the favorite chair. Sometimes things were dirty, old cans, used things that never made it to the trash. I was on a “hoarding task force” for a year or two, and heard stories of even more critical situations, where people could not live safely among their belongings. Letting go was so hard, and I feel that now. I really do.

I also see how it happens. Trash collection is not kind, at least not in my town. I have had nasty notes stuck on my trash cans when I neglected some requirement of the DPW. I have a tiny car, and even before that, I couldn’t just haul things so easily. How does a person get rid of old fencing, a broken table, the unwanted lawn mower left by someone else, those huge boxes from Amazon? Add a disability in the mix, and even the most basic trash becomes too difficult to manage. Fortunately, I am not quite in that predicament yet, but I do have so many things I realize I will have to pay someone to remove. A dumpster will be in order, I am sure.

But for now, I am going through my entire past, and it is exhausting. It’s not just my stuff, either; it is my kids’ and my mom’s, and some from my former marriage, items here and there I find and try to return if they really aren’t mine. How did I end up with everything? I realize I was always the one to say yes, the sentimental one, perhaps, but more than that, the one willing to assume the guilt of throwing out a perfectly good item, passed down through the years.

The upside of that, though, is that I have found so many treasures, if only to me. I haven’t quite become so ruthless as to keep only the things that spark joy. As much as Marie Kondo might inspire, it is a slower process here. I’m close. I want to tell the stories of the things I find, and in this, I will see the way, I know. I regret not doing this when I could have asked those vital questions to my mom and her family, but the discovery is an adventure.

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