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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Object Permanence

Today, to make room for a new, lighted shelf I'm building to sprout seedlings for my garden, I took on a task I've been postponing for a long time— reorganizing my basement storage shelves.

I've been telling myself to do it for almost a year now. And for almost a year now, I've been telling myself I didn't want to do it because it would be tedious, because it would be time-consuming, because there could be spiders lurking, because I'm allergic to dust.

Because I needed to rake the sweetgum balls out of yard, or clean the oven, or paint the bathroom, or dig a new garden plot in the front yard instead.

But today, as I broke down old appliance boxes to recycle, and rearranged storage bins, and vacuumed up dust, and cobwebs, and even a spider or two, I remembered the real reasons why I didn't want to do it.

I didn't want to do it because I didn't want to see that big bin of fabric, full of sewing projects I started but never finished, silent monument to a habit of failing to finish things.

I didn't want to do it because I didn't want to see the moving boxes from our move to this house two years ago— every single box saved, folded neatly, stacked in organized by size and shape, ready and waiting to be used again. Because in 28 years, I've lived in 22 different houses and apartments, and the boxes stand testament to the fact that I am incapable of not expecting to have to move. Because who knows when the airport will seize my family's home or my parents will divorce or my mother will lose her job or the landlord will sell out from under us or my Dad's girlfriend will find out he's cheating or the ceiling will cave in or my bi-polar roommate will stop paying rent and start having loud sex with my ex-boyfriend in the next room or my (now very EX) fiance will fail pre-med the same year I graduate and slowly turn into an angry, controlling binge drinker, or my husband's employer will suddenly go bankrupt and his last check will bounce and four weeks later, we'll find out that I'm pregnant?

How can a happily married, stable, working adult like me possibly believe that she owns a home that will not somehow disappear when she looks in the other direction?

I didn't want to reorganize that basement storage space, because I didn't want to see the folded high chair, the covered bouncy seat, the infant car seat carefully wrapped in plastic to keep out the dust, the bins full of baby clothes, all washed, neatly folded, and sorted by size, waiting for the next baby. The next baby. Waiting for four years, now, for a next baby we haven't chosen yet. A next baby that may never come.

I didn't want to see the box of handwritten letters from friends I now never speak to.

I didn't want to see the telescope two adults who both wanted to be astronauts as kids never, ever take out of its box to look at the stars.

But I did want to start seedlings for my garden.

So I cleaned my basement anyway.

5 comments:

Awesome Mom said...

I can totally relate to your moving issues. We can't ever consider a place permanent until my husband retires from the military. Plus I moved around a lot as a kid. I would love to be able to just settle in one place and really set down roots.

Jaelithe said...

On the bright side, I am really, really good at packing. I am an expert packer. I assume you are, too? Hehe.

What's odd for me is that we have no plans to move, at least not anytime soon. We live in a safe, friendly neighborhood, have a reasonable mortgage, and a nice big yard to stick all those plants from my new plant shelf in.

But it's the first time in my life I've lived anywhere and had no plans to move. No plans to move? What is that?

(I didn't throw the moving boxes away when I cleaned. They're still neatly stacked on a top shelf.)

KBO said...

I totally heart you so much. Loved this post.

On a more mundane topic, I usually eat yogurt every morning at work, then take the containers home to recycle. I've been keeping them for the past month or so. Perfect for giving away plants, no? Much like your styro-saving project.

Peter said...

We just have yet another move behind us ... so I had to giggle (in horror) when I read 'moving boxes' ..

One of these days i need to pick your brain about gardening for dummies... we have balcony space now and i want it to look nice and i seriously want to plant herbs ... but i have the power to make ivy die ... so .. i am really not good with plants ...

I'd love to some day grow my own veggies and have my own chickens .. but .. ah well .. we all can have dreams :)

Jeannette E. Spaghetti said...

Have I told you lately, how awesome you are? You are. Love you!!!