Saturday, January 24, 2015

Confessions of a packrat

The idea of a guest bedroom in my house is pretty laughable. While we have an extra bedroom and an extra bed in said bedroom, we don’t often have overnight guests. Save for a very occasional weekend, the guest bedroom is mostly uninhabited – except, that is, for all of our stray stuff that doesn’t have a home elsewhere. Board games, extra blankets, laundry baskets, old pillows, random junk … it all somehow ends up in this room.

It’s so bad that several years ago, I stopped referring to this room as our guest bedroom and instead call it my Grandma Alice room.

If you’re related to me, this requires no explanation. My cousins and aunts will nod their head in agreement when I talk about my Grandma Alice room. (Most of them have one, too.) That’s because Grandma Alice, like many women of her generation, didn’t like to throw anything away. I still remember her sewing room – there was a sewing machine in there somewhere, buried underneath the piles and piles of fabric, notions and other crafting supplies. Need a Styrofoam egg carton? Grandma Alice probably had a dozen.

My mom is the same way (well, except for the Styrofoam egg cartons). Our former basement family room is now her art studio, with bookshelves filled to the brim, worktables covered her latest projects and bulletin boards covered with photographs and ideas ripped from magazines.

Like mother, like daughter, like granddaughter. At least I come by my packrat tendencies honestly.

But there’s one major difference between my guest bedroom and my mom and grandma’s rooms. I don’t actually use the space in my house. It drives me crazy to know that for a room no one lives in, the closet is surprisingly full and that boxes of junk seem to multiply overnight. So most of the time, I shut the door and pretend the room doesn’t exist.

A few weekends ago, however. I couldn’t take it anymore. While putting a box of my son’s old clothes in the closet, something came over me. I was pulling boxes off the shelves, pulling old dog toys out from under the bed and uncovering forgotten treasures from the back of the closet. In almost no time at all, I was trapped inside the bedroom with a mound of junk at the door the bed off its frame and all the books off the bookshelf. My son climbed over the pile to see what I was up to, and then wisely climbed back out, figuring it’d be safer to go play with Dad than risk getting caught up in my mess.

A couple of hours later I emerged, with a cleaner, more organized Grandma Alice room. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. It’s a room I’m no longer ashamed of – with the door open even. But I do have one confession to make: I really didn’t throw that much away. I bet Grandma Alice would be proud. 

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