Spring is coming. I promise it will be here. And every spring there is cleaning to be done. For years, I've had an overstuffed closet. The pole sagged and it was in danger of falling down or snapping in two. I had to remove some of the heavier clothing and lay them temporarily in a laundry basket on the floor. That basket went from temporary to permanent after a year.
My intention was to clean everything out, get rid of clothes I will never wear again and rehang the rest in an organization manner where I can easily find them.
Did. . .not. . .happen.
Why? Because cleaning a closet is not just cleaning the closet.
Once you empty the closet, the contents will never fit back in it. Then you'll find something that waylays you, like a photo or a momento from your past. You'll start to go through it, reliving the happy time. Hours could go by or only a few minutes. Then you discover it doesn't belong in the closet, but somewhere else in the house. Going to the place where it belongs means you open another drawer or closet or door and find you need to straighten things up to fit the item inside. Or worse, something else gets your attention. This takes times and again you might find another item sparks memories or triggers a phone call you need to make to again relive the past experience with a friend who understands.
Suddenly an hour or more has passed. Then you go back to the original closet only to discover it doesn't look like you've made a dent in it. You pull out an outfit to put on the I'll-never-wear-this-again pile and stop. You look at it asking yourself, do I really want to throw that away. You hold it up to yourself, take a look in the mirror. Then you decide to try it on. You want to know if it still fits. Of course, you expect it will. But it doesn't, so you throw it on the growing pile accumulating on the floor.
The next item does fit. You go to the mirror and look at yourself, proud of your weight, but the style is gone. Do you have any place to wear it? After a moment it doesn't matter, it's going to go back in the closet. You'll find a place to wear it. This procedure goes on until you start to open the boxes that are on the shelves. Hat boxes with hats that haven't been worn in twenty years.
When you moved in you swore you weren't going to allow your closet to flow into other rooms like the guest room or an absent kid's room. But you need the room and the guest room rarely has anyone in it. The space there is wasted, you rationalize. Show the parade begins. You go back and forth adding things to other rooms, then finding things in that room that need organizing. You pull things out that need to go somewhere else. Pretty soon, three to four rooms have been cluttered and you have three times the work to get back to the level of clutter you had before you began to clean the one closet.
So that's why I can't clean that closet. If I start, it leads to more than one closet, more than one room, a houseful of clutter and things I intended to get rid of find their way back where they were.
And I've lost my writing time.
You might think I could begin the cleaning and take a break and go write. Writing doesn't work that way. Once I'm in a book, I could be there for weeks or months. That pile of clothes on the floor could also stay there, irritating me because I have no time for it. So the best thing is to wait until there's time. And who has that?
We all have a clutter somewhere. We'll clean it when we get time. That time might only be when we move to a new place. I have no plans to move. But I will have to clean that closet one day. I have to paint my bedroom and then everything must be moved. It will clutter up another room, but the cleaning process will be done. I can replace the sagging pole with a stronger one, maybe get a closet organizer and never have to worry about cleaning the closet again.
What about you? Do you have a closet, basement, garage you just can't clean because it means you won't be working only on that room?
As always, keep reading.
As always, keep reading.
Shirley Hailstock is the author of over thirty award-winning novels. She is a past president of Romance Writers of America. She resides in New Jersey with her family, where she is busy working on her next release.