Last year when my parents were moving my mom got ready months in advance. She was so excited to sell the house and get on with the rest of her life and it feels like she disconnected her emotions from the house altogether.
I remember being so shocked by how easy it felt for her to let go of a place where we made so many memories as a family. And I know it must have been really hard for her on certain days and she probably had private moments of sadness, but to her, it was such a positive thing.
We used to visit my parents weekly when we lived close by and so I got to see the progress of them packing up the house. As my mom packed she began placing everything into my sister’s old room and I remember walking into the room to an army of dish soap. Actually, it was more than dish soap. My mom herded lineups of toiletries, extra cleaning supplies, stockpiled foods, as well as an assortment of trinkets from our home she had collected over the years. The house itself though was bare.
You see, while my mom didn’t necessarily throw out everything, she did keep everything meticulously clean. Every week she would dismantle every room in our house and give it a good scrub down. She had a cleaning product for every surface, knew how long to leave them on for and made sure everything was spotless.
I remember every time it was cleaning day my mom would be so exhausted and she’d be watching something on TV. But my mom needed for things to be organized, needed for things to be in order.
She’s calmed down since then and cleans less frequently, but her apartment is still much more organized than mine has ever been and I’m quite shocked by how she never lets it slip. But, I guess that’s the thing about my mother. She’s got a skill for getting things done in an efficient manner.
Growing up my mom used to try to get me to organize all of my school papers immediately after the semester ended. She’d hound me for days about how important it was to make sure that the house was tidy and that things were kept organized, but I always complained.
Something about being forced to go through all of my course work, notes, tests, and other “important” information I had recorded over the semester felt wrong. I guess you’d call it a bit of “diva” or “spoiled attitude” type of reaction as my partner regularly reminds me I have… but I hated school, so I never wanted to get it done.
It felt like all of the notes I was going through were being crammed back into my head… do I need to remember this fact or can I dump it? What’s that theory again? Who was the dead guy they told me to remember the name of? Why do they have us memorize years things happened…?
Now, the thing is, that doesn’t always happen to me. You know, I don’t always feel stressed putting things in order, but I had such a negative association with the papers and school itself.
In general, I can be a very organized person and will even get very specific about how I categorize and subcategorize everything. For example, I have every draft of every play I have ever written. Performed, unperformed, completed, incomplete, inspired, or uninspired. All alphabetical. All with notes written in the margins. All organized.
There’s always been ease in organizing and categorizing things that I found invigorating to work on. And that’s not to say that everything I have ever worked on in there is invigorating, because that would be a lie. It hasn’t all been fun, but it’s all worth it in some way or another. It feeds a drive that school didn’t for me because I was given the freedom to learn what I wanted to learn and put aside all the rest.
But much like me dancing around the point of this post with prose that is just meant to titillate and distract the reader… I don’t always do the things that need to be done that get easily pile up.
It’s really easy for me to backburn the important things while I chase the things that I find “more important.” Oftentimes I don’t see the importance of getting certain tasks done until I’m faced with a pile of papers, or in the most recent case… feeling like I’m living in a place that I don’t want to live in.
Ever since we moved into our place I haven’t taken the time to properly move and settle down. I think the main reason is that I’m still so ready to pick up and move. Thing is that’s not respecting the fact that I’m here right now. I shouldn’t be worrying so much about where I’m going to live next, while completely ignoring how I’m feeling and doing now.
Currently, the apartment feels like a mess. We’ve got a few rooms painted, but we still have bags and boxes of stuff scattered all over the place and we moved last August. Which wasn’t long after our previous move only months before.
It’s also true that work picked up for me and that there were a lot of other things that needed to be fixed. A few things that weren’t in our hands, like having the windows redone by management, but I remember blatantly giving up on everything at one point. I stopped trying to move in and I just let everything carry me away because it felt useless to unpack if we were just going to move again.
Now, am I mad at myself for that? Not really. I needed to do what I needed to do. But I will say that taking some time to move in last week made me feel a whole lot better. Like I was coming back into living right now.
Since moving in I’ve taught 2 semesters. In those 2 semesters, I haven’t organized any of my papers. The desk in the office was horrific!
So, I made the decision to organize all of the papers to make the desk usable again. That meant getting rid of or filing all lesson plans, course materials, playbills, bills, coursework, notes, and every scrap piece of paper I had collected.
Breath of fresh air.
A new chapter.
Do you know how you pick up certain traits from your parents? Well, I hope that organization is a trait I take away from my mother. It’s always been a strong suit of hers and I truly admire her for it.
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