Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Confessions of a Packrat

Day three of unemployment, and already the thrill is gone. Yesterday was a big zero -- a negative, actually, if you count the poonchkie pigout -- so today I was determined to be productive. I thought I'd spend the morning doing some serious cleaning, since I haven't done that in oh, say, years. Problem is, I can't figure out where to start.

Here's the thing: I am a world-class packrat. If collecting was an Olympic event, I'd take home the gold -- and I'd store that gold forever. I love my stuff, I really do. Old stuff, new stuff, junk, heirlooms, you name it. I mean, why have a basement, garage and attic at all, if you aren't going to fill them up? Why throw away perfectly good things, just because you don't need them right this moment? Why would God even PUT space under our beds if we weren't meant to use it? The clutter has been an issue for my husband along the way, but never for me. Until now.

Today, suddenly, really looking at it, it's all too much. WAY too much. And the weird thing is, the deeper I poke into closets and corners, the more I feel as if I'm in somebody else's house. The place is packed with relics of my former lives, buried remains of identities lost or forsaken, all covered in dust. This is not like cleaning house, this is like excavating Pompeii -- and all the frozen, mummified bodies are younger versions of me.

Omigod ...  I just realized something: That's why I'm holding on to everything. The detritus and castoffs from my childhood home, class notes from college, the potter's wheel and kiln, the 22-year-old size-six business suits, the kids' baby clothes, all of it ... they represent parts of me, phases of my life that I loved and lost. Throwing it out would be to call it all garbage. To throw away my life.

But that's nuts, isn't it? I am not this stuff, after all. Hanging on to these things didn't make time stop. It all moved on anyway, and will keep right on doing so, and that is as it should be. These things don't belong here anymore. 

I think I can start letting go now. But I still don't know where to start.

No comments: