Skip to main content

A Good Clear-Out?

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Fri, 04/08/2022 - 11:19

It is Friday morning, and it is going to be hot here in the San Fernando Valley, unseasonably hot for early April. We are talking 99 degrees before noon. I have taken my morning pills, vitamins, had my low-calorie breakfast, put on my support socks and the rest of my clothes that will keep me somewhat comfortable inside our air conditioned house.

Every morning I wake up hoping that this will be the day my energy will return for all the pending tasks needing attention. And every day I go to bed having fallen far short of my own expectations. Even the simplest things like folding laundry and putting it away have morphed into monstrosities that refuse to be tamed. I have books that need reading (not just for pleasure!), a number of quotidian tasks that should be undertaken, and my level of enthusiasm and energy for such tasks has deserted me. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can get the dishes loaded into the dishwasher before I go to bed. Such a small thing!

I want to sort out all the accumulation of generational paraphernalia that has found its way into our house. But my interest in most of it has dwindled to nothing but a slight sense of guilt that these things haven't been cared for or cataloged more carefully -- but for what? Who cares now? I have thrown away photographs containing faces that I do not know, never met, and have no idea why they were saved. I feel like a sea creature scuttering along the ocean floor compulsively collecting every discarded shell, rock, and piece of junk I come across. I am weighed down with loads of other people's stuff.

I have a cabinet with glass doors that contains a scramble of vases, decorative cabinet cluttered with glassware ceramics, and dishes I never use. I can't remember the origin of many. And I know that those designated as 'valuable' are not. I've looked them up. Someone may like to own them, but that someone is no longer me. So they will go up on the "Buy Nothing" Facebook page for our area and see if anyone wants to come pick them up. Eventually!

I long to eliminate things from the past that I never intended to take responsibility for, things that someone else valued and decided to make me their caretaker. But I own it freely, I am not that caretaker any longer. And there is a kind of relief in owning that. All of my life I have taken on things that really should not have been my responsibility. I was designated as the one who would be the good custodian, and since my lot in life was to live up to those expectations, I never felt like I had a choice to do otherwise. 

But I am owning my heart's desire now. Writing it down here, so I can be reminded of it. I long for my own space, spare and uncluttered. I deserve it. Perhaps this spring is a good time to do that clear-out, bit by bit, and claim my space in the world.