Yesterday was cleaning day, and I spent most of the time upstair in our FROG, the finished room over garage. When we were first shown the house I immediately claimed it as my man cave, but over the years it’s come to be Missus’s office during her work from home time. I still have my gaming rig up there, an Obutto cockpit with triple screen monitors. Elder has a desktop computer next to it, and I’ve also added a full sized keyboard piano to the other side of the room. It’s also got a small window nook facing the front of the house, which has been my guitar area, with a 100w Marshall amp, BOSS effects pedal, and my guitars: a 2003 Fender Strat and an acoustic Takamine.
To each side of this nook are a pair of closets, and along the back of these closets are smaller doors, which reveal unfinished areas under the eaves of the roof. Right now one of them houses our Christmas tree and ornaments, as well as some clothes that Elder hasn’t grown into yet. The closets themselves hold various items that I’ve been unable to part with. One of them has a number of heirlooms and childhood items: papers and yearbooks from elementary and high school; books that I’ve hung onto; various computer equipment that I have no time for but can’t part with including racing wheels, joysticks, and the first consumer release of the Oculus Rift; boxes for computer equipment including all six boxes for the mining rig GPUs that I can’t seem to part with.
And so yesterday I spent an hour cleaning out this room. The guitar nook is now empty, everything into one of the closets. We have a bookshelf in the room that has become a dumping area. There were an unread pile of magazines: year old Nation magazines, Dissent, Jacobin, and Wired. The Nations went in the bin. The Jacobins are too beautiful to part with for now, and went with the Dissents to join their read brethren in my downstairs office. I’m telling myself that I’ll read the Wireds at some point; I can’t bear to part with them yet. I was already rent by throwing out remains of the Bernie 2016 campaign; a couple rally signs, yard signs, and a poster that I had made for our state convention. I even threw out some of my own personal mementos from my own campaign. Missus had a ton of stuff that had been laying untouched around the shelf: photo albums, scrapbooks, and old financial paperwork. It went into yet another closet in the room, one which houses various holiday flair: Halloween costumes, Christmastown villages; boxes and bags for gifts.
Et cetera, et cetera.
When I was ten, my parents bought a house that had been abandoned by the previous owners. They had fled, apparently, leaving behind all sorts of personal effects such as baby photos and the like. I remember my mom’s disbelief that someone could just up and leave all that stuff behind. Now I can completely understand. It hard to Marie Kondo individual items one-by-one and decide which ones inspire joy. It took me five years to let go of some of the Bernie paraphernalia, (I still have more,) but I’ve got books and computer equipment that I haven’t touched in even longer.
I had an argument with Elder yesterday. She didn’t want to clean and help the rest of us, and I went into a dad-rant about how she leaves a trail of mess behind her by the act of her very existence: dirty dishes, dirty clothes, shiny things that she discards as soon as it no longer holds her attention. I may have been projecting.
I’m trying hard to minimize the things that I own, to declutter the house and make it easy for us to go on travel. I’ve spent forty years accumulating all this stuff and I should expect to get rid of it in forty minutes, but it’s a bit hard coming to grips that there are things that I used to do that I just don’t have the time for anymore. It’s hard to close the book on those things. It’s like an LCD Soundsystem song where you realize that you’re not as cool as you used to be.