Yesterday I tackled the garage, and although I’m far from being done, I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made. It’s a jumble of items you’d expect to find in a garage: a fairly recent deposit of my kitchen overflow; remnants of our recent construction; boxes expelled of Christmas decorations waiting for their return; and my son’s truly unbelievable collection of crap.
Not exactly a glamorous way to spend the first day after the holidays home alone, but pleasant. I popped the garage door open to let in the light and brisk air realizing that if I had an attic or basement, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy either of those or my less than friendly neighbors as they passed by on their morning walk, furtively avoiding my gaze and the greeting perched on my tongue, just waiting for an opportunity to be human. Ever the optimist am I.
I think the reason I avoid organizing our garage or anything else in my house that collects pieces of our lives over time, is that I’m forced to think about the memories attached to every item I handle. It isn’t that I regret those memories — it’s more about having to accept the time it adds to the task, and the mood I’ll need to wallow in when I’m finished.
My thoughts wandered from annoyance with my son for keeping what resembles a rat’s nest wherever he goes, to flippant defiance: What if I printed our address in craigslist in the “free” section and just left the garage door open to the inevitable riot? Instead, what I’m left with this morning are what lies between, like thoughts about boys growing up who were never interested in playing sports, but did to indulge us.
Thoughts about school and career, and where all that knowledge and understanding goes when one is done with it. Of an old house and all its poignant memories. Of grandmothers and Martha, old friends I should call or write, and school kids I will never, ever forget.
Beauty lost to function and sentimentality to practicality on many counts during my purge. Copper pieces that have gleamed in the morning sun and cast sparks of light on my dining room wall for years are in the discard pile. Decorations for Valentines Day and Easter that used to liven up the house when the boys were little also ended up in the pile along with a huge bag of stuffed animals I haven’t opened in years. If I see them, I’ll have to think about who owned which and at what point in life. It’s sort of leaning against the discard pile, not quite a part of it, and not quite separate. Is there a child’s stuffed animal heaven somewhere I haven’t heard of?
But there are things I’ve not quite decided to let go of, and If they’re any indication of who I am or what I’ve been, then I’m as odd as I’ve always thought I’ve been. As odd as the stack of Martha Stewart Living magazines that seem to be about much more than the paper they’re printed on. What does one do with that many magazines sitting, collecting spiders and bugs with too many legs to count? Do I get one out each week, leaf through it, cut out what strikes my fancy and toss it to get on with the next? There’s something about a sharp pair of scissors cutting along a perfectly straight line and thinking through one’s life.
Ferd, a giant bunny, sits in a corner on a stack of coolers. It’s not a very dignified place for something that reminds me of how simple love can be if we allow it, and how easily life can be taken for granted, or lost if we’re not careful.
And these bottles? I dug them up in the washed out area of an old dump near one of the last places my grandmother lived. It was in the middle of nowhere — one of those places people used to go and then forgot about after the freeway was built. The bottles aren’t valuable, but I like their varying shapes and embossed surfaces, each a slightly different tint than the next. She was like that.
Or a bag I packed the day I left my job, nearly two years ago. It’s moved from one side of the garage to the other, but I haven’t unpacked it yet. But I might blow the dust off the silver bar that used to sit on my desk to remind me that others see us quite differently than we see ourselves.
I’ve done quite a bit of thinking since finishing my work yesterday, and realize that as much as I got some exercise and fresh air, I’ve only moved everything from one side of the garage to the other. It’s more organized than it was, but it’s all still sitting there.
It’s only been sifted.