End of Summer

While we didn’t get much done on the tiny cabin, we managed to do a lot around our other home—stuff we’ve been putting off for years. The improvements have been largely cosmetic (painting), though we managed a few practical ones as well (replacing broken ceiling fans and old light switches/outlets). We’ve also cleaned out closets and cabinets and–gasp–even our bookshelves (though not nearly enough).

 

All combined, this has been a lot of work. But each job actually just needed a little close attention. Sometimes I think my life can be summed up by a Gary Snyder haiku:

After weeks of watching the roof leak
I fixed it tonight
by moving a single board

I’m persnickety about many things, but other things I overlook—even if the roof leak is hitting me in the face as I try to sleep. But a life event, I’ve learned, can shake up my complacency—in this case, for the better.

My office, which has been in a perpetual state of disorder since I left for graduate school five years ago, is showing signs of organization, or at least less clutter. When my husband and I changed jobs and moved, paperwork, power cords, and junk went into boxes. I’m cleaning out tubs with bills from 2012 in them and file folders from before we married in 2005.

 

You may be wondering: this from people who want to live in a tiny house?

Let me just say that the junk is a big part of the reason I want to live in a tiny house. When I was a senior in high school, our house caught fire. Only the kitchen was destroyed, but I’ve often wondered what a relief it would have been had we lost everything. The temptation to start with a clean slate, to have a “do-over,” is strong. When I went to graduate school, I took only what I could fit in my car and lived in a 400 square ft. studio apartment. Other than loud neighbors on all sides and a bus stop outside my window where drunk college students lined up 3-4 nights a week, the place was great. Later I rented a single bedroom, windows facing a shady Florida backyard, cardboard boxes part of my décor and furniture. These were happy times—despite being in school, I seemed to have, well, time. Time to read, to walk, to clean. My daily “to do” list did not involve going through the past fifteen years of accumulated stuff. I left it all behind, and I would have been content never to see it again, to light it on fire and watch the ashes fly.

But whether it’s actual possessions or emotional baggage, I had to confront it sooner or later. And knowing that a baby will be here in roughly six weeks has brought a no-nonsense attitude toward the stuff. I feel like I’m having an “everything must go” sale except I’m just walking it out to the trash bin.

The past is useful only insofar as it doesn’t weigh me down. As Springsteen said in “Land of Hopes and Dreams,” “we’ll take what we can carry / and leave the rest.”

And right now, the only thing I want to carry is our new bundle of joy!

Some pictures from the family baby shower. My mother, craft woman extraordinaire, made the decorations.

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