It is amazing the stuff William and I have accumulated over twenty four years of marriage. About every five years, we purge the closets, cupboards, basement, and garage. We have a sale or haul the pile of unearthed stuff to one of our favorite charities. Every time we do this, we say, “There. We’re done. We’ve rid ourselves of everything we didn’t need or haven’t used.” And yet, somehow, the stuff manages to creep its way back in to our home, hiding in the closets and cupboards, piling up in the basement and garage. How does this happen?
The thing is Will and I don’t spend like we did in our younger days when we had the money and were completely irresponsible. In our defense, we also didn’t have a child for the first seven years. So yeah, we spent on ourselves. But as we’ve matured (notice I didn’t just say got older), our spending habits have been reigned in completely. Still, the stuff magically appears in our home.
I’m not talking about the unexpected gifts one receives and upon opening says, “Oh…that’s so…lovely,” all the while thinking, This has garage sale item written all over it. Those items disappear immediately. (Right now my very much alive mother is digging her own grave so she can roll over in it all the while despairing of my bad manners.)
Will is on vacation this week, and it is the perfect time to rearrange the closet in the back bedroom where I have stored all sorts of home décor and mementos from our son’s baby years. My darling hubby takes up half of the closet we share with his dress and casual clothes, and now he needs another full closet for his works clothes. This means it is also time to move the shelf from the basement where his overflow of clothing is stored as well as empty the bins where he keeps his unmentionables. Remember: I have half a closet for all my dress and casual clothes, shoes, and lingerie. Is there something wrong with this picture?
The job takes longer than I expect because I have to dust and sort the home décor and Joshua’s keepsakes into separate bins, and I discard a whole bunch of stuff I forgot we even owned. When combined with the things removed from the basement shelves, we part with a Victoria’s Secret purse given as a promotional item with a purchase of perfume, a vintage-looking hat stand, two egg trays I never used, a two-pound dumbbell whose mate went to Goodwill years ago, a mini-vacuum for electronics, a bag of tee-shirts, paint-by-number pictures Will’s Grandmother Richards painted, three Asian prints I swore I’d have framed someday, and on and on and on.
Why do we hold on to this stuff especially when it isn’t even the good stuff? Still, I’d like to think we received a reward for making the effort to clear our lives of so much junk. Will shifts the shelf in the basement and immediately realizes it must be swept off before I allow him to move it another inch. As I step closer to pick up what our two cats have knocked under the shelf, I spy something of incredible worth lying in the dust.
“Oh my gosh,” I scream as I squeeze past Will and the shelf, swipe the item off the floor, and crash into my canning jars. I break one of the jars, so now I’m hopping around on one foot, our son has come running down the stairs because he believes I’ve hurt myself, and William, who cannot see what I’m holding, is in a bit of a panic. He shouts at me to not cut myself on the broken jar. But my face is beaming and I’m laughing as I hold up a gold, circular band and say, “Look—I found your wedding ring!”
Two years ago, one of the cats (probably Henry) knocked Will’s wedding ring out of the cubby hole beneath our bathroom cabinet. When I noticed the ring wasn’t in the bathroom and hadn’t been placed in my jewelry box (where it belongs), I questioned Will. Long story short, we came to the conclusion that it had been batted down the sink or into the register vents, lost forever, my heart broken. Today, it has been restored to its proper place. No, not Will’s finger; he’s still employed in a warehouse doing work that would wreak havoc upon fine gold jewelry.
As I think back on the whole wonderful experience, I keep wondering why after two years of praying did I find Will’s wedding ring now? Yes, finding the ring is reward enough, but I also believe we learned the lesson of keeping our lives clutter free. Whether it’s physically, mentally, or spiritually, a clean life really does provide opportunity for extraordinary reward.