The Relative Merits of Spring Cleaning

Being a Texan, I never really got the concept of spring cleaning.

My mom tried to explain it delicately, in a way that wouldn’t suggest to an impressionable six year old that no cleaning would need to be done during other parts of the year: “Well, it’s after the winter when people haven’t gone outside much, so the house is stuffy. In the spring, it’s nice out, so you can open the windows and doors and let the air in while you clean.” I remembered looking outside: it was spring, for sure, but it was already close to 100˚F and the moisture in the air cloyed onto clothes and hair with the first venture out of doors. By contrast, the winter had been pleasant, almost amiable in temperature and weather. I remember thinking first that my mother cleaned like a mad woman no matter what the season, and second that if anything we ought to do our cleaning in the winter.

I recently moved, for the…ninth time since the start of 2009: to and from Athens, into my first apartment after a breakup with my first boyfriend/roomate, into my whirlwind-romance fiance’s apartment, into a new apartment after we were married eight months later, out of that apartment when I caught him on the phone with a girl in the wee hours of the morning a year later, back into that apartment when he said it wouldn’t happen again, back out again when I found out for sure a few days later that he had in fact been cheating in earnest for eight months, into a tiny 250 square foot house in the country to get my footing during the divorce, and now back to the city for what will hopefully be the last time for a good long while. Phew.

I’m in a house again, a bought and purchased house I’m pleased to say, and I’m finding the upkeep much more satisfying than I ever found maintaining an apartment. I’m very much a product of my environment, and if I feel like I am only a temporary inhabitant, I never really settle in. I feel marvelously homey here, though, and I’ve set about pinning shelves, pictures, spice racks, and baskets to the brightly painted walls, tearing through old junk, and cleaning the kitchen (promptly after cooking, too! I’m such an adult) with a will. For the first time ever, I’m experiencing the preoccupation with tidiness that my mom insisted would hit me eventually, when I finally felt like a space was my own. Must say I’m enjoying it. (Side note for the Fellows: if your lady is fanatically cleaning the man-cave, don’t pout. It might just mean she likes living with you). It’s going well, my kitchen looks great, and my office/workspace is looking functional and cozy.

Yesterday, though, I was afraid I had met my match.

There was a chest of drawers that held all (count ’em, all) of my clothes while I was living in my tiny home in the country. With only four drawers, it was stuffed so full I almost couldn’t open it, but still not quite so full that I couldn’t cram the occasional extra pair of socks or random teddy bear into the nooks when I finally hauled a drawer open after much grunting and flailing. When I moved, I didn’t bother unpacking that chest – it was thrown as-it-was into the bed of the truck to be hauled back to Austin. It was moved to the bedroom shortly after and forgotten once I had hung up my nicer shirts and dresses, of which I have only a few. The top two drawers were loosely designated for socks, cardigans, and unmentionables (even if nothing I own by way of undergarments is worthy of such a euphemism), and the bottom two drawers, still stuffed, were by and large forgotten.

I got a random itch last night to clean. I made a mad dash through with a duster, straightened some books, did some laundry, the usual. My eye fell on the chest at around 11pm, and I began to pull every piece of stuffy, misguided clothing out of the drawers and attempted to sort them. This was made more and more difficult by a number of variables, not the least of which is that my shape has changed considerably thanks to the Divorce Diet. Things that I considered day to day wardrobe staples several months ago now looked bulky and clumsy when I put them on for a test run – I’m not complaining, of course, but it did make sorting rather more difficult than I was prepared for when I started the procedure at almost midnight.

There’s also the fact that clothing, left to its own devices in the back of a chest of drawers, becomes less and less amenable to being disturbed as time goes on. Many of my clothes tucked into the recesses of the chest seemed to have gone native in my absence, and I got a number of splinters, a few snagged and bent nails, and one smashed thumb as I tried to get at those that had wedged themselves up into the tracks of the long-unopened drawers. I finally got them sorted, though, and re-stowed in a more civil and law-abiding fashion. Although, I’m thinking the chest may have won that round, after all – the pile of clothes I meant to hang up is still just that: a pile.

So now, after all this time, I’m trying to hold onto that idea of Spring Cleaning, at least long enough to finish a few tasks before I get distracted by others. There are goals that I must accomplish, most of which have to do with my Pinterest board for DIY homecrafts, but first I have to pay my dues: those clothes are getting hung up, stat. And this time, I mean it.

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5 thoughts on “The Relative Merits of Spring Cleaning

  1. Ryan Holmes says:

    This is a fun piece to read. I found it hilarious, mostly because I relate to it. Couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve angered the Misses with a late night organizational project or down-right, full-blown foray of remodeling when there’s already an unfinished lengthy list of the same tacked to the frig with a yellow, magnetic letter P. Thank you for making me feel less alone with my obvious, and yet to be characterized, disorder.

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