I am writing this letter to you from my current location in the hallway. I am surrounded on all sides by boxes. These are the deep, dark recesses of my guest room closet pulled out and exposed to light for the first time in three years.
I have done everything I can to avoid sorting through them. I have mopped the entire upstairs with vinegar and soapy hot water. After it dried, I mopped again with sweet-smelling Murphy’s oil soap and eucalyptus essential oil. The laundry has been washed, folded, and put away. I dusted and cleaned and re-arranged the furniture. I started a new knitting project.
But now it is Saturday morning and I am alone here in the hallway. Unless I plan to abandon this house and these tasks, I have no choice now but to open each box and sift through their contents.
As a nostalgic person, I fear this task will take me on a jagged path down memory lane. As a person who is certain there are old newspaper clippings in there from my journalism days, I dread the appearance of a horrifying silverfish bug which I hate and have set out to destroy across all the lands.
Last night I slept in the house with all these boxes crowding the hallways and I had a taste of what it would feel like to be a real hoarder, with inaccessible doorways and goat paths throughout the home. It was distressing, and maneuvering around piles of crap is difficult. But I could feel how easy it is to get into a situation like that and in some ways clutter is comforting, and feels protective. I was awash with compassion for my fellow human beings who cling to objects, and I had more than a little twinge of fear. I fear becoming that way. But it’s ok. Nothing is set in stone — I remind myself constantly that I am in charge of this stuff (not the other way around).
None of these boxes will go back into the guest room. Whatever is inside them must be dealt with. This is my last stand against a future that is just filled with the remnants of all my old lives.