Every house I've ever lived in has had a designated place to throw stuff.
Stuff. You know, the stuff you might need someday. The stuff you only use once a year. The stuff your kid might want. The stuff you can't bear to throw away.
There is a room in my house where my family has always thrown stuff. It's technically the laundry room because it houses a washer and dryer. That's what we call it, but it also doubles as a pseudo garage - our tools are kept in there. It's a front closet - coats and shoes are stored in there. It's a pantry - there are shelves that contain canned goods and small appliances that don't fit in the kitchen cupboards. There's an upright freezer, too. And the room hosts access to the crawl space, furnace and hot water heater.
It's a busy place.
It's always a mess in the laundry room. I mean, a big mess. That's because the room isn't big enough to be a garage and it's too big to be a closet. It's just the right size to be a big mess. And every now and then somebody gets the urge to clean it.
That somebody was me this week. Technically, I'm the only one who lives here so I guess the mess, no matter when and why it was generated, now belongs to me.
I waded through a ton of stuff. I got rid of old coats, old shoes and old...well, everything. My car is filled to the brim with everything going to the dump, and there are bags sitting on my front porch waiting to be dropped off at Salvation Army. I can now walk through the laundry room. It feels good.
I did find a few things I've been missing. I found my taxes from 2010 and a borrowed palm sander I was sure I had returned. I found the black mitten I've been looking for and the electric charger for the lawn mower.
I'm happy to have found that stuff, but if my house should burn down, I know I could live without it. Especially the palm sander.
I found a few other things, though, that I don't want to live without...
- The pink felt Barbie skirt my grandmother made when I was seven. She sewed tiny green leaf sequins on it.
- My daughter's collection of 9/11 newspapers and magazine articles.
- My son's "Bears" baseball cap. The Bears were undefeated the summer he was nine.
- Candles from my daughter's wedding.
- The recipe box my sister made me as a Christmas gift.
- A medal my grandfather won at an art show in 1956.
- An old dog collar that still has the name tag on it.
- The plaster handprint my son made when he was six.
I'm really glad the laundry room is nice and clean. I can't guarantee it will stay that way; historically it doesn't have a terrific track record. But for now, I'm happy.
I've found so many things I need.