A Day's Thoughts...
It’s been a few days since I’ve faced a blank page. It’s a bit intimidating at first. Like arranging dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in months or years. Feeling unsure of how it might go. Will it be like old times? Will we have anything to talk about? Will it be awkward? Then, with a smile and a “hello,” that time between conversations melts. And when the dinner ends, you’re smiling ear to ear. And by the time you get to the car, a somberness clouds the air, for when will you meet again? Can it be sooner than later?
I traveled to Arizona in early April to catch up with my roommates of thirty years ago. We knew one another from accounting days at Sundstrand. I was a pricing analyst and cost accountant. Jeepers, that’s a funny thing to say. I’m many years – and universes – away from that career! For three solid days, we caught up and covered the gambit from kids to husbands, from cancer to the future. It was as if we were in the middle of a desert flower bloom, an outburst of friendship. And it was absolutely wonderful. We timed our arrivals, them from Chicago and me from Boston, within fifteen minutes of one another. The same with our departures. At the end of the trip, we had lunch at the airport, and then they walked me to my gate before going on to theirs. We said good-byes with smiles. Then they were off down the terminal. The sudden aloneness caught me off guard. Honest to Pete, I felt a piece of me just peeled away as the three of “us” became “them” and “me.” The sudden absence of conversation and laughter hit as though I had been thrown into a cell in solitary confinement. Tears rose.
Often times when I fly, I take a virtual walk through our house and jot down house projects that would open the bottleneck of too much stuff in our house. How to clear the dining room. How to better organize the office. How to make more room on the shelves and hooks of the mudroom. How to make the rec room in the basement a place where my family wants to hang out. A virtual walk-through helps me identify projects without putting my hands on a thing and getting distracted.
Inevitably, a room in the basement rises to the top as to where the cork needs to be popped to let all other projects commence. This room has had many labels since we moved in nearly fourteen years ago. Guest room. Craft room. Library. We had shelving and cupboards installed in 2010. Then in 2012, water got in the basement when we were putting an addition on the house and over half of the storage units had to be ripped out. Since then, finding a label for that room has been tough. It’s the catch-all room. During the holidays and decorating the house, I call it the room-where-all-the-magic-happens. It’s a holding room for all things that need to be taken back to the barn loft – out the basement door, across the backyard, through the main level of the barn, (aka the garage), and up fifteen iron steps to the wilderness. To that place behind a cheap wooden knob-less door. The door that I knock loudly on, ten or more times, to let the little beasts know I’m coming up. The story about loft critters is still brewing.
So on the flight back to Boston from Phoenix, it becomes clear that the project that must be on the priority list is this room. Scarier still was that I needed everyone’s help because the cork was made of questionable stuff. Does 15-year-old Will want to keep Beyblades that his 8-year-old-self played with? Does 13-year-old Liam want the journals that his 8-year-old-self drew pages upon pages of Mario levels? Does Bill like to re-do jigsaw puzzles that he has already put together once? I took a deep breath Saturday morning as I headed out the door and proclaimed, “I need everyone in the basement for an hour this afternoon.” Then I ran. Afraid of the fallout. Fast forward to that dreaded hour… I’m amazed at what we accomplished! I set up three stations: keep it in the house, put it in the loft, or donate it. As we moved through stuff, we had a laugh when memories were dusted off. Seeing what the three of them kept and what they didn’t want was enlightening. (Let me know if you want any jigsaw puzzles!) We gained a 10x10-foot patch of floor space and now have two empty cabinet shelves.
Backpedaling, at Logan airport on my way to Phoenix, I picked up a magazine that grabbed my eye. The headline on the front cover was “GET ORGANIZED!” Yes, all in caps. Anticipating my virtual de-cluttering list, I grabbed it and was a bit stunned when the cashier asked for $13 and change. But there were “100+ IDEAS FOR EVERY ROOM” and “QUICK & EASY CLUTTER CURES” – those were surely worth the money. I read it cover to cover on the flight to Phoenix. And then I cussed a Grandma Murphy little “s” cuss word. There was nothing new. I KNEW IT ALL. And it had been written by twenty- or thirty-somethings who had no real stuff to manage in their lives. And too much time to think about all their imaginary stuff. The little tidbits of “Paper Your Shelves” and “Roll Your Towels” were of no use to me. And the offering of how to avoid stray single socks coming out of the dryer? There is no such fix. Fiction.
And finally, our realities of how long to keep blush in your make-up bag before replacing it were so far apart I wanted to throw the magazine, for my replacement of blush has never been based on time but rather on consequence. The day the plastic case dives out of my hand and crashes on the bathroom floor and the lid and base skid apart as the blush breaks and sends crumbles of soft color flying – that’s when I know it’s time. I have about a week of patience after that for taking the hair band off the case and tapping broken rouge with the brush. And if the drug store isn't in my week's travel circle, I can probably make that bumbled together blush case last another two weeks. Fact.