In Writing

I have made it a week!  I embarked on a quest to get rid of 27 things each day for 27 days (here’s the original post explaining the project) and I am a little over 25% done.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.  One, when you tell people you’re doing a Big Spring Clean that will unburden you of over 700 things, people invariably tell you to slow down.  What if you run out of things to purge?  Why not 9 instead of 27?  Why be so radical?  Even my daughter, who is great at getting rid of stuff, has her doubts.  When I asked her if she’d help me carry out the trampoline that’s been serving no purpose in our yard since they outgrew it about 3 years ago, she said, “How about we take it apart and make it count for five things instead?”

This is not about loopholes, people!  It’s 27 WHOLE things.  And, no, if I’m getting rid of a bottle of 30 expired vitamins, that’s ONE bottle, not 30 vitamins.  I’m trying to get rid of as much as possible, not as little.  While everyone offers helpful suggestions for how I can cheat and purge less, I am trying to find ways to purge more.

In fact, I’m finding that every day, it’s hard to stop at 27 things.  Sometimes I’m purging small things, like when I did the vanity under my bathroom sink and got rid of old nailpolish and emery boards.  But today, big trash day in my town, I got rid of old wood paneling I ripped out of the library and a screen door that’s been taking up space in my garage for years.  (See, the Big Spring Clean is also good for my fitness levels – I carried all this stuff to the curb all by myself!).  Every day I feel a little lighter and happier.  It’s been amazing.

So here’s what I’ve done so far: my bedroom closet, my bathroom vanity, part of my guest room, my yard (also partial – so many pots broke this winter there is still a ways to go), my garage (way partial.  The garage will be good for at least 5 or 6 more days, possibly more), my vitamin drawer in the kitchen, plus all the cupboards (goodbye, bread crumbs I can’t eat and which had an expiration date of 2013).

Still to tackle: the guest room (good for at least 3 more days.  So.  Much.  Junk).  The bathroom closet, full of creams and hair stuff and dusty fancy soaps.  And when I go to the basement I will probably never be heard from again.  It might just turn into the 127 day spring clean if I do everything that needs doing in the basement.

What’s funny is that I am not one to keep a lot of stuff.  I am militant about getting rid of clothes I don’t wear.  I am not a kitchen gadget kind of girl (since, you know, zero cooking skills) and I’m not much of a shopper at all.  My main weakness is buying books, but I’m pretty good about paying those forward.  (In fact, that’s my fall-back.  If I run out of things to get rid of, I could still donate 27 books a day for the next 27 WEEKS and still probably be okay.  Yes, I exaggerate, but only a little).  And, still, despite the fact that I am probably pretty low on the consumerist scale, I somehow find myself with enough stuff so that I can give truckloads of it away for a month and still have more than plenty.

A lesson in Western excess and my participation in it?  Perhaps.  All I know is that the cleaning out of all this stuff feels amazing.  I’m writing more, I’m happy and light, and I feel like I’m flushing everything I don’t need right out of my life, not just on a physical level but on a spiritual and emotional one as well.  I find myself getting impatient for the next day just so that I can purge the next 27 things.  Freedom, thy name is Spring Cleaning.

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maria andreu at NYCTAF