Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cleaning out the back room

When we moved into this house, one of the bedrooms (the "back bedroom") was designated as the exercise room/library.  Yeah, it's a weird combination but it just worked out that way in terms of where the furniture would fit.  After James died, I gave my desk to a friend so now all the books are in the office, which makes a lot more sense. 

Last November when I decided to paint my bedroom, I packed up all the knick-knacks and whatnot from the bedroom and put it in the back bedroom.  This was the start of that room slowly becoming used for storage.  (Which has been great because I hate to exercise and couldn't get to the exercise equipment anymore).  But I'm starting to have more social events at my house and as a result bought a second folding table and a bunch of chairs and I need somewhere to store them.  I don't want to keep them in the garage so I decided it was time to clean out the back bedroom.  I hadn't committed myself to doing anything yesterday, so I decided that would be a good time to get it done. 

The starting point!

Some of it was pretty easy:  the magazines I've been planning to get around to reading for up to 5 years now have been put in the recycling bin.  The magazines that aren't quite that old that I'm still deluding myself I am going to read someday are now in neat stacks in the closet instead of strewn out on the floor.  The magazine rack has been dismantled; the dowels are now in the craft/guest room and the rest is in the recycle bin (you never know when you are going to need a bunch of dowels).  The stack of boxes I had accumulated because they might be the perfect size to mail something in someday are now either nicely shelved in the closet or in the recycling bin.  The "Sweet Valley High" books my brother brought over (they had been at Dad's) last summer are now on my bookshelves and the other books I enjoyed in junior high are in a stack to go to Schoolhouse Supplies for another young girl to enjoy.  Dad's trumpet is in the closet; the paperwork that was in the box is filed.  (And now the large box my brother and I keep pawning off on each other is empty and can go back to him...ha ha ha...)  The shoe cabinet that was only effective until the dogs figured out they could get into it is ready to go to Goodwill, as is the first ever laptop bag ever made and a bunch of old cassette tapes that belonged to James. The box of a bazillion keys that belonged to my father-in-law that no one will ever know what they go to, nor has anyone asked about in the 5 years since he passed away have been tossed.  A lot of the stuff was in the craft/guest room to begin with but had been relocated when I actually had guests, so a lot of cleaning out the back room translated to moving it all back into the craft/guest room.  I will not be having guests in there anytime soon!

It took a couple of hours of sorting and several trips to the recycling bin for me to get to the last of the boxes, and as I did, I found myself filled with the desire to just not finish.  So I took a break and went to get a pizza.  I think the fine folks at Papa Murphy's would appreciate it if I'd either actually order the Veggie Delight as is or stop telling them I want the Veggie Delight and then creating something that in no way resembles their idea of the Veggie Delight. 

After lunch, I still didn't want to finish but I knew I had to.  I was down to the hard part:  the box of things from James' desk that were given to me by his employer after he died and the boxes of knick-knacks that I had put in the back bedroom so I could paint.  What to do with these things?!  I started with the box of things from his desk.  Some was obvious:  the lint roller and dental floss I put away in the bathroom.  The bubbles, the Barrel of Monkeys and the Yo-Yo I put with the rest of the games.  The clock radio, fake bling, Sumi-e board and the Santa that I'm assuming sings and dances when it has batteries I put in the box for Goodwill.  The miscellaneous information about benefits I recycled.  That left his nameplate, the birthday card my mom sent him that plays "You Can't Touch This" and the Transformers I gave him for what turned out to be his last birthday.

The boxes from the bedroom were not as easy. They mostly contained memorabilia from the cruise we took in 2007, and other small gifts we had given each other over the years.  My plan had been to put a shelf up in the bedroom and put these things on it, but because I excel at procrastination, this never happened.  And now I had a decision to make.  The leftover items from his desk went into the box, except for the Transformers.  I might take those to work.  So did the vase of fake carnations he got me early on in our relationship that he would occasionally spray with his aftershave.  The stuffed dog I got him early on went into the box as well.  He wanted a dog and was having a bad day so I got him one.  The poems we wrote to each other for Valentine's Day 2000-a little over a month after we started dating are in the box.  I laughed when he handed me the poem-it actually hurt his feelings a bit, but what he didn't know was I was laughing because we had come up with the same gift for each other and I was relieved because I was afraid he'd think my writing him a poem was lame.  The blown glass paperweight we saw being made that I went back to get him is also in the box.  The paper from Sacramento that has his obituary is in the box; so is "Casino"-the stuffed rabbit I won at Circus Circus in Reno.  The Ziplock bag with his PJ top is in there-I had just done laundry a few days before he died so I didn't really have anything that smelled like him.  Most of the things we picked up on the cruise are in there too; the magnets are on the fridge and the pottery is going on a shelf in the craft/guest room.  I decided to start collecting small pieces whenever I travel so while that started with him, it isn't exclusive to him.  I added to my collection when I went to Mexico in 2009.  The doll I bought in Haiti will go in there too, as will the Phoenix Suns rally monkey he bought me because he had to go to a game to schmooze prospective clients and felt bad I didn't get to go.  The plastic cup we swiped from the ship, our Sea Passes and the little souvenir cup James got from trying the drink special the one night we ate in the formal dining room are also in the box.  On the very top of the box is the picture that was taken of us on the cruise in our formal wear the night he proposed; it's the closest thing we ever had to an engagement picture.

It felt so weird and so final to pack up all these things which seems silly.  For one thing, they were already boxed up.  For another thing, it's not like I took them to a storage facility far away.  They are in the closet in the back bedroom-I can go open the box whenever I feel like it.  I think what it boils down to is when I packed them up the first time, it was intended to be temporary, but packing them up this time was meant so I could have closure so I can continue to move forward with my life.  Life, I have decided, would be so much easier if death came with an instructional manual. 

Overall, I feel good about having the room cleaned out.  It's nice to have at least one room in this house tidy and organized!  The downside is I now have no excuse not to exercise.  I really didn't think that part through. 

 Wow!  I can take a picture from the other side of the room!

The box my brother WILL see again.  (Sammy not included).

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