Guilty. As charged. A thousand times guilty. If you’re feeling like you’ve read this before… hang in there. I’m not being repetitious, I’m actually guilty. Not still guilty. Guilty again…
Sometimes when we clean, we get empty totes out of the closet or the attic and grab all the laundry baskets we can find as temporary holding pens for the clutter.
I know, right? The gall! Thankfully, it’s a burden we alone bear because nobody else would ever do that.
We’ll then hide these now full baskets and totes anywhere there’s a few cubic feet of space. This is ALWAYS a bad idea, but it’s a quick fix in those moments of impending company, recent illness, insane scheduling or “ships-passing-in-the-night” syndrome. (Yeah, so that seems to be all the time…)
Like the one time I shoved the case of soda on the back porch in late November. Yep. That happened. (For those that haven’t yet made the jump to hyperspace, it got quite cold that night and at least half the cans exploded.)
Or when the pile of bills went into one pile and the checkbook went into another one and we just found the bills… from 2007. We’re still looking for the checkbook. (It’s probably better for all of us if you keep thinking this is a joke.)
Stuff accumulates. Sometimes because we have the best intentions, sometimes because we’re waiting for Chesterfield (inside joke…read “Insurance”.) Sometimes we don’t have a better place to put it right at that moment. Sometimes we decide to “do filing later” and when the IRS auditor shows up I say “hold on, that return is in a laundry basket in the attic.” (It’s only happened once. Actually a joke… sorry, Mom.)
We eventually get fed up with all the stuff, or company is about to come over and we procrastinate getting fed up with it until later and instead just box it all up and hide it.
Inevitably, there comes a time when we need something. We don’t know where we put it and we can never find it. Or worse, we don’t even know what the thing we need looks like. Eventually, we may forget that the thing we need even exists.
All because we started hiding our stuff. It starts innocent enough, “they don’t need to see that.” Which is a really a little white lie that goes more like “Let’s make it look like we have it all together.”
“Their house was so clean when we went. We can’t have them see how we really are.”
“They’ve got everything together. They’re so perfect.”
“This is what they’d expect us to do.”
And suddenly we’re hiding things and burying things and forgetting things and it’s not even our responsibility anymore. We lie to ourselves again when we “do it for them.”
We forget how to be honest. We forget how to face our stuff. We forget how to pay the bills and confront ourselves. We postpone and procrastinate keeping the small things aligned, all to keep up an image.
We portray a nice and neat, picture-perfect existence. It’s a glass menagerie that’s pretty from a distance and to protect it we give the nickel tour without letting anybody get too close. We don’t open closet doors and we steer clear of the attic or the basement or the garage, which doesn’t even have room for the car.
The stuff is hidden away in boxes inside of other boxes in piles on top of piles, stowed away so we can keep the smiles front and center and pour another cup of coffee. The evening slips away, yet the boxes and piles remain where they’ve been hidden, out of sight, out of mind, nice and locked up.
And the moment comes that I bid you goodnight. I close and lock the door and it dawns on me we’re not even talking about our houses at all. Or at least we’re not talking about our houses alone anymore. We’re talking about much more.
We’re talking about soul stuff. We have boxes inside boxes and piles of piles and they’re all going to stay in the attic. Because we like the room this way. We like the way our life looks right now.
It’s clean. It’s presentable.
After all, this is what they expect us to do.