Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Sometimes it helps to get lost in the details
I found it difficult to look at the "big picture" as we moved our home to a new house.
Whenever you endeavor to do something that has so many parts I think the tendency for the non-planners among us is to just shut down.
For months people with the best of intension and previous experience told me to start packing “now.” I knew they were right, but whenever I looked around at the massive amount of stuff we’d accumulated in a decade, I saw all the things that more or less owned me.
Instead of packing in boxes, I packed in my mind.
And I purged.
Every now and again I filled my car with things to donate to Goodwill. I dropped them off.
For a little while I felt lighter even though the donation hadn’t made a dent.
But when it finally came time to hunker down and get to the business of really moving things, it was just a blind grab and toss.
For a start, we didn’t procure enough boxes. Packing box after box; unpacking, repacking. We found ourselves reusing worn cartons marked “Kitchen” for “Bedroom” or “Bath.” It didn’t really matter seeing as how all of it was just being dumped into the closest room to the entrance.
Our stuff has stuff, or so my parents like to tell us.
But relocation isn’t rocket science; it’s merely the systematic organizing and schlepping and hauling and re-organizing until one finds a constant (or the set of car keys they lost two Christmases ago).
Perhaps that’s why I found myself wide awake at 4 a.m. trying to bring organization to the kitchen before the rest of the house arose, bringing chaos to the kitchen instead.
I made a pot of coffee and stared up at the cabinets. It struck me as odd that I – the person who doesn’t really do the cooking – feel compelled to organize the space. As I unwrap the first of the glasses I realize that while the cooking part is creative, the cleaning part is compulsive.
And if I am to uphold my end of our “You Cook, I’ll Clean” arrangement, I need to be able to organize our things for easy replacement. I get to work placing the dishes and the bowls, the cups and the saucers in the cabinets. Mixing bowls will go up there; a little to the right. Wine glasses next … and then serving bowls and platters.
The coffee is growing cold. I splash a little more in my cup to warm it up.
There’s the collection of water bottles and Thermoses to place next, not to mention the odd lot of things we’re keeping but never use. A corner of the cabinet, in view but out of reach seems good for those.
I begin to notice other things, too.
The kitchen appears smaller, but it’s holding all of the items we spread over three rooms in our old house. Everything is finding its place; something I’ve been longing to say.
I know it won’t last. Space seems to have a way of overfilling, but in the early morning light of a brand new day in a new house, sitting back with a cup of coffee and a sense of completion certainly has its perks.
As the sun comes up I hear the faint sounds of movement above; the creak of floor boards and running of water. And as the work dwindles from frantic, I decide moving isn't such a bad thing. It helps a person sweep away the clutter as they would cobwebs and offers an opportunity to revist lost causes, which can only happen if you move the year-round Christmas tree and hear a familiar jingle of keys.