Many years ago my family used to tease one of my brothers because he would tell us he needed a new watch simply because the watch battery had died. In a similar vein, I’m thinking that having a dirty and cluttered house necessitates a move. Okay, he didn’t really need a new watch, and I don’t really need a new house. On the other hand, the fact that I do have a new (loosely defined here) house has opened my eyes to a number of things.
First, the reality that we’re moving across country has inspired us to get rid of a lot of stuff. Everyone knows they have too much stuff, and we are no exception. Peter and I regularly pitch and purge, but we still have too much stuff. I think that’s part of being an American, and I’m embarrassed by it. Peter would say we didn’t toss nearly enough, but I think Goodwill has made a decent profit off of us.
Second, I have found things. I have found missing socks, puzzle pieces, important papers (how did that end up there?), and untold other things. Moving forces us to touch much more of our belongings than we normally would. In the process, we move things around, dust things off, lift up lids, and peer into corners. Some of what I have found is disgusting. With three kids, two cats, and a dog, I guess that was inevitable.
Some found items have been delightful. I have found really funny notes that the children have written. (I won’t share them or embarrass the children here. They get private emails to remind them of their past.) I have found scraps of paper or cloth that bring back great memories. I found love that got buried under the everyday dust of life. And, yes, I’ve found dust bunnies the size of my cats.
Peter has been going through our kitchen cabinets to locate foods that we forgot we had. Luckily for me, he’s an amazing cook who can throw together a really tasty meal using the most unusual combination of ingredients. He does it all without a recipe. I really love that man!
Third, the house is getting cleaned to a degree it hasn’t seen since we moved back in 2000 after a major remodel. I mean all the rooms are getting cleaned and all the windows and all the furniture. It’s amazing. When we moved to Bellevue from Centreville, Virginia, in 1993, Microsoft paid for professional packers to pack everything. (I was seven months pregnant. The packers were a godsend!) Packers don’t know what’s important and what’s not, so they packed virtually everything. I’m sure Peter was surprised to receive trash cans replete with trash already in them! I, on the other hand, am throwing out trash, dusting furniture, and doing what I can to avoid having to throw stuff away as soon as it gets to Maryland. At this point, we have sent three large containers to Maryland. That’s three containers of stuff that is no longer in my way when I vacuum or dust.
Maybe moving is a little extreme of an activity simply to clean and declutter a house. Maybe we just need to reorganize our houses every so often. Pack a room up just to have the experience of seeing everything that’s in that room. Give more to Goodwill than we would normally allow ourselves. Move everything into the garage and only move back the stuff that really matters. Yeah, I won’t do that, either.
And maybe, just maybe, when I’m in Switzerland next month, I’ll buy my brother a new watch.