The Importance of Spring Cleaning

By Samantha Solomon

I’m crouched on all fours with my face shoved past the sliding doors of my closet, a beige carpet that desperately needs to be vacuumed, scratching my knees. My face red from pushing and shoving things around, I emerge victorious with a single, broken velvet hanger.

This the face of “Spring Cleaning.” Wildly tousled hair and beads of sweat condensing at my hairline and blurring at my brow, this is the face of decluttering.

“Spring Cleaning,” or my version of it, anyway, is a yearly necessity, brought on by superior skills in hoarding old papers and books and fueled by an online shopping addiction. But this year, it is a special occasion. I am graduating from college in just a few short weeks and, over the summer, I am getting an apartment in the city. How exciting, right?

Sure, except this great moment has lead to the realization that I have WAY too much stuff. Things I don’t need and never needed have piled up in my closet, under my bed, and have cluttered my life.

Nobody tells you that one of the pains of graduating is decluttering. You are told so many times that “being out in the real world” was going to be hard, but I always assumed those ominous warnings were referring to finding jobs and paying bills. I hadn’t realized it also meant scaling down, packing up, and figuring out ways to fit all of your second-hand college furniture into a studio apartment.

I’m leaving a comfortable nest of objects collected over the course of four years. My desk poses a serious problem. It is the eye of the storm in terms of useless things. Should I get rid of this old candle with a picture Kurt Vonnegut on it, begging me to write? Yes, absolutely. But what about this beach bleached stick and these seashells that I gathered into my pockets from a Northern California coastline?  I’m reminded of road trips with friends and getaway weekends to see forests of Redwoods. These useless objects don’t serve me anymore, but the memories that arise when I look at that stupid little stick are extremely difficult to part with.

I have some small ceramic objects from travels abroad. I have a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo sitting on the top shelf of the desk, the cover falling off from multiple readings. I have decided to keep these things. But then I have old birthday cards from friends I no longer speak to, and a pair of heels I wore once to a banquet freshman year (what a night that was!) stuffed underneath the old wood of the desk. These things I will sell or give away because it’s important to detach the sentimentality from the object in order to create new memories.

This is the point of decluttering, recognizing what we don’t need in our lives
However, though my journey through the new world of minimalism is still as fresh and new as a budding spring blossom, the research and development stage of donating, selling and repurposing what I can is daunting and yet oddly healing.

There is power in descaling. There is a purpose in realizing that some of the things you have are no longer necessary and no longer have a use.

Therefore, goodbye old textbooks!

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