I'm in the process of purging my house. It started earlier in the summer with my study closet. I pulled everything out, dumped it on the floor, and slowly, over the course of two weeks, dealt with it.
The minute I got my closet (mostly) straightened out, I started hauling stuff from the attic into my study. Over the years, when I just couldn't stand it any more, I'd swoop into Will's room and throw everything left on the floor into a bag, eventually to be sent to Good Will--"eventually" meaning "probably never, but a girl can dream." The result? An attic filled with two years worth of plastic bags stuffed with ... stuff. Lots of Lego, lots of plastic "guys" (mostly Star Wars characters, including a disturbing number of beheaded Death Star Troopers), lots and lots and lots of broken crayons.
Why can't I bring myself to throw away a broken crayon? Is it really because I believe that one day I'll melt all the broken crayons down in the cups of a muffin tin to make fun, new multi-colored crayons? Or is it because I was a child during the Great Depression and can't bear to throw anything away?
The trick to sorting through the junk in the plastic bags in the attic is to become mildly obsessed with the project, to truly believe you can make the earth absolutely clean (that's actually a line from a James Wright poem about shooting blackbirds--"it turns out you can make the earth absolutely clean of blackbirds"--but it comes in handy for a housewife on a mission). I spent Saturday afternoon throwing bits of plastic and crayon and Lego and nameless, brandless snap-it-together-building thingies that we appear to have over thirty thousand of, into piles on my bed. The Man came up at one point to take a nap, but quickly fled from the room.
Reader, I was making the earth absolutely clean of broken crayons.
My purging has been a summer-long project, but I think it's been kicked into high gear by the news of my mom's illness. I can't control cancer, but I can control my attic, by golly!
But even more than that, I'm feeling blocked. Not creatively, but just ... personally, somehow. And attics and closets are symbolic little subconsciousnesses, now aren't they? I really feel like if I could clean out my attic, streamline it, make it absolutely clean of blackbirds , then my own psyche will have a little more breathing room.
Or at the very least, we'll be able to reach the Christmas tree stand this year without breaking our necks.