A Fine Mess

closetI have a closet under my stairs that my husband lovingly calls “the velociraptor closet.” He insists that going inside is a dangerous adventure because the area is most assuredly filled with wild beasts that may attack at any moment. He always wishes me well whenever I daringly go into the farthest reaches of the area, assuring me that he will send for help if I don’t return in a timely fashion. The joke of course is based on the messiness of all that I have crammed inside for storage. It is quite a challenge to maneuver along the passageway without sustaining a bump on the head or a bruised shin.

I’m known as a neatness freak by all of my friends and family but when it comes to closets I fail in organizational skills. I tend to use those hidden spaces as a means of holding all of the things that I rarely use but may or may not need in the future. The only rhyme and reason that I follow in storing junk is based on where each the items actually fit and the seasons in which I am apt to want them. I have an entire section of a closet just for Christmas wrapping paper, tablecloths, and serving pieces. Several square feet of my home’s real estate holds things that I only use for one month each year.

Back in the day all of us had cameras that used film that we had to get developed and converted into photos that came inside little paper envelopes. We never knew exactly what we would get from our efforts of recording events. Sometimes the resulting pictures were hilariously awful but we had to pay for them anyway. Most of the time I never bothered to throw away the defective images. I just kept them inside those little envelopes with all of the others. Over time I accumulated boxes and boxes of photos from our celebrations, milestones and trips. After my mother and mother-in-law died I inherited their boxes as well. Now I have an entire upstairs closet as well as a cedar chest dedicated to those old pictures. Much like my mother-in-law I keep promising to label and organize what I have so that future generations will have some idea of their meaning, but I never quite get around to completing the task. I suppose that one day someone will have to decide whether to toss the lot or make an attempt at finally achieving what Granny and I never did.

I used to marvel that my maternal grandmother never gave anything away and now I find myself hanging on to so much more than I really need. I’ve got items that I haven’t used in years but for some reason keep with the crazy idea that I may actually one day find a reason for hoarding. I remind myself of a notion that a friend once mentioned noting that the messy folks who never throw anything away end up with the prize possessions of the Antiques Roadshow. I keep convincing myself that valueless items may one day be worth a fortune if I just hold onto them long enough. I suppose that I am more sentimental than I should be. I imagine my children and grandchildren cursing me one day as they attempt to cull through all of the things that I have accumulated.

I’ve tried paring down the number of books that I have but somehow I just can’t part with them even though they fill spaces all over the house and even under the beds. I find myself hanging onto worn linens by noting that they are fabulous for covering my plants during the one or two freezes that occur each winter. I have boxes of rags just waiting for cleaning projects and an array of old paint that I use to touch up knicks once in a blue moon.

I haven’t changed clothing sizes in several years so I have outfits that date back twenty years. I’ve tried making a rule that if I bring in something new I must rid myself of something old but I convince myself that I need to wait just a while longer in case an item comes back into vogue. I even have a stack of clothing that I use when I paint or use bleach. It may sit in the corner for years but eventually I pull it out and feel rather proud of my foresight.

As the year progresses I begin setting aside gifts that I have purchased for friends and family. It’s a habit that I learned from my mother but I’m not as organized as she was. When she died we found items labeled with the names of the recipients. I just put my purchases alongside the Christmas section of the closet without mention of who I want to have them. Sometimes I forget that I even bought them and they languish in limbo for years.

I’ve been getting messages from Medicare and the CDC indicating that it might be best for someone in my age group to stay around the house a bit more until the threat of the coronavirus subsides. Maybe this is finally the time to tackle the messes that lurk inside my closest and under my beds. In all honesty I’d have to wrap Christmas packages for hundreds of people to finally use all of the paper that I have. I’m thinking that if I do nothing more than toss the photographs of sub par quality I will have made a big dent in the volume. I need to tame the velociraptor closet and admit to myself that I’m not going to read the vast majority of my books ever again. Do I really believe that I or someone else might actually use those dvds?

I suppose it’s time for a change and maybe I’ll get around to making it or maybe not. It’s a fine mess that I have. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

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