Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Date with the Basement

Michael and I cleaned up the basement this weekend. I say that so casually like we went for pizza or took the dog for a walk. If you have ever seen my basement I appreciate how quiet you have been about my secret shame. For those who have not had the horror of hunting through my subterranean  jungle, you will have to exercise your imagination.... Close your eyes; picture the mismatched, jumble of random thought that fills my twitter feed and this blog, package it all in cardboard and chuck it over a cliff. Now creep over to the edge of said cliff and look at the carnage...That is my basement.

Everything a person could want, need or desire to hide can be located in our basement. It is a gigantic sitcom closet; it has no capacity maximum but an impressive air of impending doom that strikes terror in the hearts of children and adults alike. For the record, my kids are afraid of never surfacing from the basement not a monster under the stairs. His room has be crammed with cartons full of books and CD's. Michael's "Life before marriage" boxes filled with beer paraphernalia, sports knickknacks and fast-food collector toys. There is a broken VCR, some leftover flooring and comforter bags jam-packed with every single piece of paper my three children have brought home since junior kindergarten. I'm going to use it to wallpaper their children's nurseries, that way when they're all... "you're not putting that crap on my walls", I can toss it to the recycle bin released from guilt. It's a lot to lug around house to house but not nearly as heavy as my conscious.

I do a pretty good job of avoiding the reality that is my basement, venturing down only when no alternative exisits to Rubbermaid bin diving for seasonal fodder. I ignore it until it can't be ignored anymore, that time is now. On the 'purge and stage' list we drew the 'basement' card and I instantly hated my disorganized borderline hording self just a titch.

Eventually the past catches up with us all, mine caught up with me on Saturday. I expected to be frustrated and fed up sifting through box after unlabeled box, organizing, pitching and re-packing, what I found however were some great memories. To be quite honest most of my past lives are in that basement. I found fifteen remaining cookbooks from the original run of 700 books created from gathered family recipes in support of a cousin stricken by a medical tragedy. I smiled when I placed them in a box for her Mom. Those books helped a little but more importantly that lovely young lady has her life back due to a determined spirit. In a strawberry crate I unearthed my books from a wedding planning course I took they were tucked on a shelf beside a portfolio crammed with story/design boards from interior design school. Those things together made a run in wedding decor a fun adventure, one I may return to once the kids are into their own lives and they can help not play checkers in the corner while mom yells for extension cords and safety pins.

Michael helped me pack up box after box of cake pans and cake making accessories. What began as a birthday cake or two quickly became a couple hundred sweet creations. I can't part with those pans, I need them 'just in case' and secretly hope a creative child takes up the art.

We packed up crates of outgrown Brats and Barbie dolls, dinky cars and monster trucks. I packed a small bag filled with dishes from pets well loved and sorely missed. We carried boxes and bags to the garage for donations, the dump and re-homing. Bit by bit bins were approved and shelved, organized by holiday, event and usefulness. Eventually the Broom could get across the floor...eventually the basement was conquered!

A pic just to prove to my future self
that I have the ability to organize.
I now bask temporarily in the glow of optimum organization and minimal ownership. I also have a heart warmed with memories of lifetimes past and a great deal of gratitude for Michael who stood by and helped me sift (in fairness he really only holds responsible claim to a box of beer stines and a sack full of collector hockey pucks). He has stood beside me for more than the cleaning, he's been the one believing in me all along, no matter what my undertaking. It's not easy being hitched to a creative spirit.

Of course it's not easy being hitched to a tinkerer either, and next purge day, when it is his garage under the microscope I will hold my patience and the bags, tape shut the boxes and know that these are his memories to sift through.

Hope, Gratitude & Smiles are meant to be shared... spread them around :)