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Clearing the Clutter

09/01/2011

Brian and I are on a mission: with April 1st quickly approaching, we need to decide on a new apartment and get everything squared away, which means packing up two households (okay, two rooms) and determining what stays…and what goes. Our weekend has been pretty much devoted to that sole venture, except the time he spent at work yesterday, a couple of hours doing LEIMUN work for me, and of course sleeping in. (It is the weekend…)

Yesterday’s apartment tour was an absolute disaster, but in the end it helped us sit down and figure out what we absolutely want and don’t want in a new apartment — and, because we didn’t simply go with our first option, we actually have a much better plan that will probably yield us an even better place to live.

Regardless of where we end up moving, we each have a significant amount of things collected over the years: toys, stuffed animals, papers and magazines and little knick-knacks that we need to sort out into our “keep-sell-toss” piles (I watch a lot of Clean House). We’ve decided that working together through each apartment is the best strategy, not only because the work will go faster, but also because we are each able to provide a pragmatic perspective on items that the other may only be keeping for sentimental reasons. I don’t want to end up like my pack-rat parents, after all…

Of course, the process isn’t entirely positive. Part of Brian’s moving history involves moving in with “she who shall not be named”, then moving out, so it was only to be expected that going through desk drawers and boxes would yield remnants of that relationship. A gold-plated key to the Magic Kingdom was the first piece; after I commented that it was actually quite a cute decoration (thinking it was from his family’s trip to Disney World), he told me that she had given it to him as a gift — yes, it went in the trash. From there, we found a carbon copy of a check he wrote to her for rent (shred pile), one of her old checkbooks (torn up), and a picture of the two of them dressed up to go somewhere. That picture is now in about 100 tiny pieces and one large one — I couldn’t bring myself to tear up Brian’s face too. It’s a nice face. (I should note that Brian was 110% behind me in this venture.)

Some people may say that I reacted badly. I knew that coming across parts of their relationship was a possibility, and reason says that I should really get over it. He is with me now. I won’t try to justify it; I just hate her. I hate the way she treated him, I hate the part she’s played in our lives for the last four and a half years…I. Hate. Her.

This is the point of clearing out the clutter, though — it isn’t just about throwing away old receipts or donating toys that we’re simply too old to have. It’s also about tossing the lingering remainders of bad decisions and negativity that act as physical reminders of things that are best left in the past. Everything happens for a reason, even if the reasons don’t always make sense or ease hard feelings. I don’t know if or when I will ever be in a position to look back on this part of our story and laugh, but I am a strong believer in symbols and consigning the pieces to the trash helps me do the same to the thoughts and memories left behind.

It also helps remove unwanted people from the life that Brian and I are building together — there are only two people in this relationship, and that’s the way it’s going to stay.

Now, if we could just decide on an apartment…

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