After being displaced from my apartment for the past 5 weeks while the bathroom went through renovations, I returned home today in the same way I left: unexpectedly and unprepared.
When I left my apartment, it was early February and very cold. I basically threw some sweaters and fleece-lined tights in a suitcase and left. While I was away, BF’s mom and I both came across Marie Kondo’s bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” We decided to buy it, read it, and implement the KonMari Method into our homes. (At this point, I should confess that I haven’t read the book yet. I skimmed it, and BF’s mom read it in its entirety. His parents have worked through the first step, clothing, in their own apartment.)
As renovations progressed, I spent a few hours in my apartment here and there, but I never stayed long. Aside from not having a bathroom to use, being in my apartment made me feel out of control and overwhelmed. Everything was a mess, and I couldn’t do anything about it. White plaster dust covered the living room, dining area, and kitchen, because I hadn’t had time to clean, put things away, or use drop cloths before the bathroom walls got ripped out. Boxes and trash bags lined the hall. A giant cardboard box blocked the dining table, and for a few days a toilet sat in the middle of the living room rug. On top of it all, there was an accidental flood in the kitchen, and the clean up created more of a mess.
My first day back was supposed to start with homemade crepes. But things happen, and it didn’t. I instead found myself on the train at 9am on a Sunday, headed home. After a couple hours, the overwhelmed feeling began to descend again. I’ll admit, I almost left, thinking I’d return to where I’d been staying, where things were orderly and there was always food in the fridge. The inner voice of fear wailed hopelessly, “My home will never be clean again!”
That snapped me out of it. When the voice of fear goes too far, to the point of ridiculousness, it’s easy to pop the bubble and wake up. I thought “I don’t even know where to begin,” and then I remembered Marie Kondo:
Start with the clothes.
I did. I went into the bedroom, where we employ the “floordrobe” method despite having two good-sized closets. (That needs to change.) After multiple trips to the basement laundry room, I managed to wash four loads. While they dried, I went through my closet and dresser, touching each article of clothing. “Does this bring me joy?” I asked each piece, almost aggressively, taking great delight when the answer was “Nope!” and I could add it to the donation bag that has been sitting by the bedroom door for months. One large bag went immediately into the basement Housing Works bin. The other was hauled out to a consignment shop, where I sold one pair of shoes for $11 store credit. Oh well. (Now the bag is waiting to be picked over by friends before it, too, is donated to Housing Works.) Some pieces were thrown directly down the trash chute, which felt really good. While hanging the majority of my shirts up to dry, I continued to ask, “Does this bring me joy?” The pieces that failed the happiness test are hanging on a separate drying rack, to be added to the donation bag. I even questioned the clothing coming out of the suitcase I’ve been living out of for over a month, and three items went into the giveaway bag.
I picked up drawer divider boxes at Ikea last week, so that’s one of the next steps (along with reading the book more carefully). I feel better, though. I feel like I’m making progress, like I have a plan. I feel more in control, but with a less frantic energy. One of the lessons I’m trying to integrate is to stop trying to control everything, but I also love my apartment and I need to give it some love after being away so long.
I’m sure I’m not the first to blog about the journey of home organization using the KonMari Method, but this is relevant to the original purpose of this blog. (And maybe I’ll post more often as a result!) My home is where I conduct my creative staycations, and creativity needs space. Additionally, my word for the year is SIMPLIFY. So here I go, making space and simplifying.