. . . comes the spring and summer. Metaphorically speaking, there’s a time for rebirth and renewal. I’ve been inspired to completely overhaul my entire home. After coming through an amicable divorce (amicable on the surface), I finally decided to face my ex-husband’s posessions. He left 2 years ago and had left all of his stuff in my house. I had had enough. One fine day I got mad. It all started because of a small wicker basket that I had placed in the bathroom. He had removed it from the bathroom when he was cleaning and stuffed it in a closet never to be seen again. I ran across it and wondered where it was supposed to live. When it dawned on me, I got pissed, and it snowballed from there. I got a big box and unceremoniously dumped all of his clothing into it. After two years his suits were still hanging in his closet. He had abandond them the same way he had abandond me. He walked out of his life with the shirt on his back – not wanting to deal with any of the issues – emotional or material. To this day he has not confronted the problems that have lead to the breakdown of our marriage – nor the removal of his belongings. And I have spent numerous hours journaling, and talking to trusted friends and councilors . . . I don’t know everything, but I do know that dumping his suits into a box was very healthy.
The funny thing was . . . I couldn’t lift the box! I had a decision to make. I could either get two smaller boxes that I could lift, or I could call my wonderful new boyfriend for some assistance. Bob came right over. He dropped his plans for a beautiful Saturday afternoon and spent the next four hours helping me cart my ex-husband’s belongings out of MY house. It was really nice of him. I valued the support. Then, I spent the next 4 days independently continuing to clear out Bill’s material posessions. By the time I was finished, I had a pile 6’ x 12’ x 4’. Quite impressive.
I invited Bill to come get his things, as we are on “good terms”. He said the stuff was mine and he did not want it. I told him, kindly, that there might be some things that he’d like to have, such as the letter telling him he was accepted to his first job, his first driver’s license, family photos from when he was a child. . . he came up for lunch and took one look at the pile and couldn’t deal with it. He told me it was all mine and could do with it as I pleased. We went out to a new restaurant and had a lovely meal. I heard all about his new girlfriend (a PhD in Bio Statistics from China . . . sounds like a highly successful woman who makes a lot of money and is able to talk to him about his industry and not embarrass him by bringing up radical politics like educational reform, welfare programming and drug / alcohol programming for veterans / teen pregnancy etc. – SHE sounds perfect!)
But I’m off on a tangent – this should be about getting organized. . . this one small wicker basked has lead to an entire new system for me. I have put all of my journals on what used to be Bill’s book shelf. There are hundreds of them! I put my board games in what used to be his closet. I hung my diplomas in my new office. I am using my filing cabinet to organize my important documents. I now know where my insurance, banking, birth certificate, taxes, . . . all sorts of documents are. It feels really good.
Another room that I have reclaimed is my LIBRARY. For years, Bill insisted on calling it the “EDSU” (Emotional Dependency Support Unit”. I laughed, and thought it was a semi-funny joke. Sure, I did collect ephemera from my life, but there was no reason to be so dismissive. I am now calling it my “library” and will have it redone with proper bookshelves after I can save up enough money to invest in intermediate quality built-in shelving. Right now the press board bookcases hold my collection of books. And quite a collection I do have! That’s another thing I have done in the last two weeks. For the last 10 years my books have been thrown together every which way. Now, after spending several days I have a few sections: art history, fashion and pattern making, knitting and crocheting, philosophy, history, children’s books, women’s biographies, yoga, health and diet, learning disabilities, classroom management, mathematics, second language acquisition, among many others.
Bob is in the process of redoing my kitchen. He’s a professional contractor and has been for the last 12 years. He and his partner are doing a wonderful job. It is about 75% done and should be done for a party around the holidays. All of the cupboards are in, so I’ve started organizing them. It feels really great to finally have a drawer in which to put my silverware. For the last 9 years, I’ve been keeping my silverware tray on the counter because the old owners didn’t believe in drawers. The cabinets were so cheap that there wasn’t a drawer in sight! I have a place for my wine, and my plates fit in the cabinet – in the old kitchen, every time I wanted a plate I’d have to tip the plate on its side and wedge it out with a shimmy. I had Bob measure the plate I had found for this kitchen and promise me several times that it would fit. I can’t believe he still loves me after all of the grief I’ve put him through over whether these silly plates would fit. When I finally put them away, I called him up and told him five times, “I can’t believe they fit!” I opened the door and marveled at the beauty of my dishes lined up in a row. It is soooo beautiful!
I know where my utility knife is, and my cleaning supplies, garbage bags, etc. I got a few meaningful pieces of art framed and hung them in my kitchen. Every time I make coffee I see a photo that Olivia Valentine gave to me the summer of 2002 at Snow Farm out in the Birkshires. We spent many nights around a campfire, discusssing politics, art, the meaning of life, the future, love, sex, food, New York and other parts of the world that we had visited . . . I am happy to have this piece in my kitchen. Every time I make coffee in the dawn of the day, I think of Olivia and the impact she had on me and on the students we taught. She’s still probably touching people’s lives with her beautiful art and her personality.
Organizing is a continuous process. I had been so very disorganized that after this round of cleaning up, I’ve realized that I had no less than 6 books about getting organized! Rather ironic, isn’t it? If you have to go out to buy a book about getting organized because you can’t find or don’t even know you have one already – the situation is truly dire!
I’m reluctant to ever check this goal off my list as accomplised because it’s process rather than product. I may never be completely organized. I have made significant progress in the last month. I know where things are – I have tissues and hand lotion in my handbag. I have a drawer for my forks and some of my diplomas are on the wall. I have head and footboards for my beds. These are things that organized adults have and do. I’ve decided to not live like a college student anymore – out of boxes and by using other people’s hand-me-downs. I’m not spending vast amounts of money but I am getting pretty things . . . oh, and, by the way . . . I’ve purchased my last basket. I realized that I have a basket problem. I, TrilliumAnne, will never again buy another basket! I may look at them and admire their craftsmanship, but I do not need to take them home with me! Part of staying organized is knowing which objects to invite into your home.