For the past two days I have been engaged in the dubious task of cleansing my room, purging it of all matter that is not useful, been in the same place for over a decade, disorganized or cluttered. The whole event started when I received a text from my mom on Saturday morning, it said, "I know u always have lots to do, but please clean ur room."  I realize that I am 25 years old, and that being asked to clean your room by your mother seems a bit juvenile, but I also realized in that moment that it really must have been rubbing on my poor mother's nerves, and that also, yes, perhaps my knowing where every single item in my 8' by 8' room is located is simply not enough, it could use a little sprucing up(a lot).  I'm not dirty or messy so much as plagued by the absolute need to document, display and love any evidence of good memory, friendship or beauty.  But there comes a time when it is just out of control.

 I started the job by putting things in corners and boxes and dusting around the lamps and various knick knacks on shelves and dressers, but luckily my dear and true friend kate was there and could only stand my half-hearted job for about 10 minutes before she said, "alright, put everything on the floor onto the bed, we're going through some of this stuff."  Kate, who has always been rather extraordinary at putting my life in order began to sort.  A D.I. pile, a throw away pile, a keep for later box, a keep box, a memories box and a seasonal box (I think Kate created such immaculately named piles in a kind attempt to subdue worry at all being lost). 

 At this point Carl had come over and I think was relieved to see the compressed space of my room finally was combusting.  He started sorting as well.  We came up with a system in which they would hold an item up, I would quickly tell them the entire history, ancestry, and reason for having said item on my bookshelf, dresser or floor.  Example: Alisha gave me that ceramic star candle holder for my 13th birthday, I can't throw it away.  My brother made that pot in the 9th grade, I don't care that it weighs 10 pounds, it's good for holding tacks and nails.  Zack gave me that pin that says 'Jesus loves me' a few days before he went on his mission.  Darcie gave me that giant candlestick lighter from a trip to North Carolina in the 8th grade.  Elisa gave/made me/wore that, Davey gave me that, gee made me that for my birthday.... etc etc....  I think the culminating point was when Kate held up a glass bottle full of little colored papers and said, "Don't tell me, nice notes from your ward last year?"  It was true.  

 Every thing in my room reminded me of someone, there was a reason for having it there, but it was getting out of control, and maybe even holding me back in some ways.  As I packed the most important things away and gathered a pile for the trash, Carl consoled me in saying "Don't worry, just because you don't have all of these things out doesn't mean that people don't love you and you don't love them, you're just making space for more memories."  I felt better.  

And now, my room is free of 9th grade spelling lists, a few 8th grade birthday gifts, a few less young women lesson quotes, a few less dusty candles, a few less tubes of makeup I used my freshmen year of college,  and all my books finally fit on my bookshelf instead of in 10 piles around my room.  I have to admit, it feels really good.   I learned a few things in the course of the clean up, which is really what I started off to write in the first place:

1.  I really do need people to help me and take care of me, there are just so many things I don't know how to do on my own, I imagine it's the same for all of us.

2. I don't have to preserve every scrap of anything that has ever come my way,  "I'm saving to show my children" is no longer an excuse, they don't need to spend the first 5 years of their life examining mine.

3.  I cherish gifts so much, it could be considered overkill by some, but the connections I feel to people I've known and do know are so important, but also, we will have an eternity to be friends, so I don't need to frantically and continually collect the evidence.

4.  It's good to have a clean room.  It's good to de-clutter.  It's good to change and move forward.  It's good to remember.


Sofia Deyanira said...

Don't throw this post away, it warmed my heart.

shelly said...

Okay, I needed to read this post of yours, Ash. And I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again...are we SURE you're not mine??
May I please borrow Kate and Carl? Don't be offended that you can't come down and help -- but I'm afraid you'd be way too sympathetic to stories and histories of why I NEED to keep this and that. I'm finding myself in the same situation of your bedroom, only it's my WHOLE HOUSE! Ahhh! I've spent more years than you've been alive collecting my "special" things and now I resemble (or AM) one of those wierd old ladies I visit teach that needs my help. Okay, they're not wierd, but I am. Hats off to you for a great start! And wish me luck. It can cause a little bit of anxiety, can't it?

Emily Carruth Fuller said...

Great story, it shows so much of your personality! Hey, I just need to get your email address to ask you a question. If you could shoot me an email at emily.carruth@gmail.com I'd appreciate it. Thanks Ash!

darcie said...

there will be hell to pay if kate and carl tossed the candle lighter! invaluable to someone who works at a candle factory. i want it back!

Lindsey P said...

Kate is so good at helping in such a situation. I miss seeing her, and i miss seeing you. Although your blog is super endearging, it is no substitute for the real thing. I'm just gonna show up at your door one day.

g said...

i've been waiting for this day.