I am a city person and one of the first things that I marveled at when I moved to the New Jersey suburbs was that most people did not have much clutter in their houses. They also did not have any books that were visible. I grew up seeing walls of book shelves in small apartments and beds surrounded by mountains of books. However, I do remember my step mother, who grew up in tony Hewlett, LI, once telling me that her parents would not allow her to play with a family because their house was “very messy”.
We have books in our living room and you can see them when you come though the front door.
This past year was very hard on the family. We held it together during some of the toughest health issues that we have ever had to face but something had to give. In the suburbs, I have also learned that people can have a beautiful facade, spotless kitchens and dust free areas under the couches but there are always secrets. Our secret was the garage and my not so secret obsession with being sexy (and alive) again. My mid-life crisis precipitated a change in roles that my husband and I had been comfortable with for twenty three years.
My husband laughs that he does what he calls “the bitch work” in the house: laundry, dishes and straightening and I do the manly stuff: heavy cleaning, I paint, lay down cement, mow the lawn and pay the bills. The garage is a supposedly shared territory. In reality that means that we hope someone will get fed up and do something about it first before the other has to.
Yes this is it! We are not Hoarders! This was a power grab!
This last year, I gave up most of my responsibilities to try on new ones. I hired painters, landscapers, started working, took care of my mother who was diagnosed with cancer and I started looking for ways to become a sex symbol… Well in any event, I lost interest in fixing things and started just wanting to enjoy being in the moment a little longer. I wanted to laugh more and worry less.
If I needed to hang a picture, I went out and bought a new hammer, I didn’t have time to look in my garage through the mounting clutter for the things that I already had-okay that has always been my way of dealing with stuff-but as a city person who has always had supers, I was feeling very gypped for having spent this much time on my house and property. The stuff was starting to own me. The garage was becoming a symbol of the change in the dance that our marriage had become. As we were defining new roles for ourselves, we kept the rest of the house together as best as we could. The garage was the physical manifestation of our turmoil. It was the room that no one had to look at until they needed Diet Coke, paper towels of toilet paper.
This year, we had our annual trash day and for the first time my husband and I worked on cleaning out the clutter of this one room together. We made joint decisions on what would be thrown out with few tears (on my part). I worked the rest of the week on my painting supplies and tool kits. It was very easy when I knew that I would probably hire the professional work men to do the big stuff. No longer would I try to paint the outside of the house only to realize half way through that I was afraid to get on the ladder to paint the upper half. I would be sexy instead…something which requires much more maintenance. Mow the lawn or remove unwanted body hair? Caulk the bath tub or go to the gym? My choices were getting easier by the minute.
Some anonymous people just dumped their garbage here too. But this is mostly all garage garbage.
The garbage men told me that God knew who the anonymous garbage dumpers were (who did not want to payfor the $80 permit) and their souls would be unclean.
When the garage garbage was finally taken away, my husband and I celebrated the airiness of the room and marveled that we could actually walk through it again. That garage is a very very sexy room again.
Really it looks better this is just a bad photograph and I am going to hire a garage consultant to put up hooks.