I’ve had to spend the past few days undergoing a major overhaul in our living quarters. After nearly a decade living independently, our daughter Stephanie is moving back into the house so that she can swing it financially while finishing up her studies at the University of Maryland. To fit her belongings in the house and give her some independence, I have moved my study from the basement to one of the spare bedrooms. I am shrinking my work space by half, at least, but I get to put my desk by a window and have nature light for part of the day. Another plus is that I no longer have a TV in my study nor a couch where I can stretched to read commentary on Patanjali while watching the Redskins beat the Oakland Raiders. My cell phone now picks up a good enough single that I can carry on a conversation. I get a wooden floor, instead of linoleum, so I can roll out a mat whenever I feel like it
My family, my wife and me, really, have accumulated too many belongings for the type of house we own, a small townhouse. My wife has her oil paintings, art booms, her doll collections, her sewing and seamstress projects, stacks of cloth. My son never move his old school (community college, GWU undergraduate, UMd postgraduate) stuff out of the house, and is now dropping off his photography displays. Now Stephanie is going to deposit the physical manifestations of her independence and file up the basement.
Needless to say, the move has been brutal physically. I’ve moved three book cases and their contents, plus desk, keyboard unit, two filing cabinets and contents, and all my computer gear from the basement to the second floor. My back and legs ache from the exertion. Then, I had to put them all together again. I still have three-four more bookcases. I have taken down bedding, mattresses, bed frame, boxes of belongings,
It’s also been a time to sort through stacks of books, magazine, correspondence and just plain junk, and decide whether to keep it or dump it. I have tons of stuff accumulated over 40 years (My parents donated my school books and independent reading when I left home). Do I need to keep a book on DOS 6.0 for sentimental value? Am I ever going to get around to reading my collection for Wired magazine that dates back to 2003? Will I ever send that external hard disk that I dropped during the clean up to a certified lab where they can dig the data out? Should I throw out the files for a story that I was going to write about 20 years ago? That’s why I was in the basement, the weight and state of decomposition of these stories weigh heavy with their doom, with the squandered human anecdotes and embalmed statistics. I can move the worst offenders into the closet under the stairway that’s under the stairs. No light there, not even a naked bulb. I have to bring a flash light to pull out my old tax returns.
There is a pang of nostalgia in this ascension because I’ve resided in the basement for 10 years. It was away from family traffic. It had a routine — I was in charge of the washer and dryer, staging the loads so that they could move through the machines at the least expensive power rates in the evenings. I would take advantage because I could give my yoga kit special treatment by not putting them through the dryer, just hang them on a line or hanger. I could grab my dress shirts out of the dryer before they got wrinkled. But, I also had to clean out the kit litter. My wife can never claim that I did not help her with the household chores. I could let my disorder sprawl over the floor and boxes, and no one would get their fingers in them because, except my wife, to clean them up.
Of course, my wife’s solution to this quagmire: sell the townhouse and get a big independent house with garden and storage shed, big closets, lots of windows opening on the east,south and west. Something worthy of our stature. I tell my wife that the market is not prepared for us.