24 June 2007

Clean Sweep, NC Style

I have been in a funk lately. My local friends are laughing at that statement right now because to them, I always appear to be in a foul mood. However, I have been in a deeper funk than usual for the past week. Getting out of bed seemed like too much of a bother. All I wanted to do was sip tea and watch junk television. I think Lifetime TV was created for women in this kind of mood.

Luckily, I have kids. I don't have the luxury of wallowing in self-pity. They are young enough to need care and supervision but old enough to notice if Mommy is sad. So after three days of semi-wallowing, I told myself that I needed to get up and do something. I searched for the task that appealed to me most, and the garage won.

When I am low, making a dent in a huge task can be uplifting. Cleaning our garage definitely qualified as a huge task. Like most garages, the space is either too cold or too hot most of the year to spend much time out there. This means that we usually open the door and throw stuff out there that we don't have room for in the house. By the time I started attacking it on Friday, there was not a clear path from any wall to its opposite. I got the corner closest to the kitchen clean before ABM got home, then he and his friend CJ joined me on Saturday for an all-day purging.

If you have ever seen the show Clean Sweep, you may have wondered if there are really people who have that much junk crammed into one room. I can testify that there are. Seeing the contents of our garage fill our driveway was amazing and a little sickening at the same time. The final refuse pile alone covered a 5' x 5' patch of grass. We did a massive purging when we moved into this house six years' ago and for a while we kept our packrat tendencies in check. As the kids have gotten older, the piles have started growing again.

Although it would be more environmentally responsible to avoid buying the items in the first place, the good thing about letting your stash of belongings grow to critical mass is that it weakens your attachment to particular items. The stack of Spin magazines from their first three years of publication that I never read? Trashed. The vintage tweed coat with the torn lining that I know I will never get repaired? Donated to Goodwill. I was ruthless in a way that wouldn't have been possible if I didn't feel so weighed down. For the first time, I was the one coaxing ABM to let go of more and more.

Did cleaning the garage lift my mood? You bet. As an added bonus, cleaning one room gives me the boost I need to move on to other rooms. I gave the den a good once-over this morning. Hopefully this good feeling will carry me through the next few days.
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