It was clean up day for me today, and boy, was it long overdue. I recently picked up a book all about the “life-changing magic” of tidying up, so I was psyched to put its principles into practice.
I took a day off work just to get started on this, and I was feeling pretty good about it. The book said, after all, that cleaning up should be looked at as a celebration instead of a chore, and I was so ready to celebrate having a tidy house for once.
After dumping more clothes on the huge pile in the middle of floor, I consulted the book one more time.
“The first step is to check every closet and dresser in the house and gather all your clothes in one spot. Don’t leave a single wardrobe or dresser drawer unopened.”
So far, I did just that. I spent the morning going back and forth the rooms, making sure I didn’t leave any corner unexplored for clothing. It was honestly quite a pain, but just seeing the sheer pile of clothes I had shocked me. Who knew I had so much?
“Are you sure there’s not a single piece of clothing left in the house? … You can forget about any clothes you find after this. They’ll automatically go in the discard pile.”
I walked back and forth as I racked my brain to make sure I wasn’t missing any place, and suddenly stopped in my tracks. Ah, there is one place I haven’t checked, one place I have been subconsciously (or consciously?) avoiding.
I exhaled loudly and purposefully walked into my walk-in closet once more, book in tow. It was looking very bare at the moment, considering that all the clothes I had there were in the aforementioned pile. Its emptiness was heartening and refreshing after living in clutter for years, but I knew there was a dark little place in there that I was avoiding.
I took out the little stool I kept in a corner and stood on it to view the upper shelf of my closet. And there it was, the box I called The Vault. Hesitating, I carefully took it up and gently placed it on the floor.
I took up the book once more.
“I have no intention of letting them keep anything found after the sorting is done… if someone doesn’t remember an item at this point, it obviously doesn’t inspire a thrill of joy, and therefore I am quite ruthless.”
I took a deep breath and shivered as I held its cover, dreading handling the contents of The Vault. I knew perfectly well what the contents of this box of memories had: promises, regrets, disappointments, nostalgia, and the pangs of a love found, a love lost.
Besides 13 letters, a pen knife, 18 joker cards, 7 Polaroids and 3 books, I knew that the box also had in it 4 handkerchiefs, 2 shirts and 1 soft, well-worn blue hoodie that was too big for me.
I didn’t think it was right to look into The Vault, since, according to the book, “starting with mementos spells certain failure.” But there were clothes in there too…
I stared at the box for a while, lost in thought. Just then, I heard my phone beep. I took it from my pocket and saw that it was a short message.
“Hope your KonMari Day is going well! I’ll take you out to dinner tonight so you don’t have to clean up after, haha. Happy tidying up!”
I smiled and took another look at The Vault. It seemed insignificant now, a relic of the past.
Quickly, before I could change my mind, I picked it up and hurriedly walked out the closet, out the unit, out the apartment. I headed straight for the trash can outside and opened the lid, ready to dump the unopened box in it.
Before I could, I stepped back and brought the box close to my lips. “Thank you for giving me joy when I needed it,” I whispered to it, “and for teaching me what doesn’t suit me.”
And with that, I ceremoniously dropped The Vault into the can and brought the lid down before I could see the items leave their little box prison and fall alongside the other pieces of garbage.
As I turned away, I felt tears well up in my eyes and quickly moved to wipe them away. It was then that I noticed the silver gleam on my ring finger, a promise of wonderful future that was soon to be in my grasp.
Through my tears, I smiled and kissed my engagement ring. I murmured, “Thank you for teaching me to let go.”
With a lighter heart, I walked back to my home, excited to be surrounded by things, people, and emotions that spark joy into my life.
Image source: deviantart.com/coolinggiant/art/East-Empire-Company-Storage-Trunk-528814562
First written February 22, 2018.