He stands apart from me, the placement of his body the only visible part of the topography we once created, who kissed who and when. Deer in the headlights, sweet as burned sugar. His gestures are shy, terrified. I wonder, when I remember, if he is happy. (If he still thinks about his decisions.) His hair still smells like heartbreak.
I’ve been finally attacking the extra stuff in my house, much of it left here by other people or from a time when I lived in a house instead of a three room apartment. It helps that poor people buy less, so the influx of new things has gone from a slow trickle to almost zero. Plus, unemployment may be depressing, but it certainly makes for a lot more “free” time.
My cleaning method is fairly simple: clean what you have time for, put everything else in boxes to be sorted later. The idea is to separate the mess into smaller, more manageable chunks that can be sifted through later until everything has either found a home or been put aside to be sold or recycled. The upside is a tidier apartment, the downside is that I never quite know what’s where. The other problem is that the boxes pile up in closets and spare corners when life gets busy, untouched for weeks or even months, a perfect example of out of sight, out of mind. If I need something, where is it? How much space am I using up with things I don’t need?
The first step to conquering the boxes is to actually set aside some space and open one. (Or even better, two). It’s often surprising what I’ll find inside. Anything small enough to fit in a box has probably been fit into a box. Anything! So usually when I decide to tackle one, I lay out some tools – a recycling box and a garbage bag. I also like to have a space set aside for things to sell or donate. That way, no matter what it is I find, I can immediately sort it into place. Is it something I missed while it was packed away? Then I find a home for it in the apartment. If I can’t, back in the box. If I didn’t miss it or it isn’t important, it’s discarded. Eventually, the boxes begin shrinking. Five to three to two to one.
Some of what I find is difficult to place, though, so I have to ask myself harder questions. The broken things I find, the ones I always intended to fix – are they worth keeping? It can be hard to let go of broken things, especially if you’re like me and tend to mend rather than replace, (save the environment! save money!), but will I actually get around to it? It’s hard to admit, but unless I fix something within two weeks, it might as well be never. The flash of guilt I get for discarding something that could have been saved is overwhelmed by the fact that I will never have to feel bad about it again. The same with gifts I never use that I’ve received from people I like. They meant well and that’s what counts. The thing itself can go.
Given my recent progress, my goal is have all the boxes emptied and dealt with by the end of October. The rest of the plan is to go through the rest of the apartment and get rid of everything else we’ve been meaning to sell or give away, like the unwanted-stuff pile that’s swallowed our front hall. List it all on Craigslist. Apartment yard-sale anyone?