Clean-up weekend helps curb my packrat instincts

I love town clean-up weekend. It goes against my packrat tendencies, but it’s the only time I can stare straight at a pile of old magazines and finally admit . . . they’re not treasures. They’re trash.
My closets, my attic, are filled with good intentions.
The exercise machine Jonathan will one day fix so I can avoid the winter weight gain.
The ribbons stashed away for one day turning an ordinary box into a storage chest befitting a princess’ toys.
We’ll do it. After he becomes mechanical and I become a craft maven.
Oh, wait.
My closets and attic are filled because we don’t know our limits. If we can’t fix it now – whether it’s because we don’t have the talent or the time – we chuck it into the dark recesses of storage.
I’ll fix it later, we tell ourselves. Or, I’ll build it later.
I’ll use this later.
There’s legitimate storage – the 5-gallon Rubbermaid totes stuffed with hand-me-downs Jillian has yet to grow into, the Christmas decorations, the mountain of photos I may never go through but still cherish.
Then there are the boxes of old baseball cards – that, protest as he might, will NEVER be worth more than the paper they’re printed on. There are the old newspapers, saved because my byline appears, but start to yellow and decay from a water leak.
That’s why I need town clean-up weekend.
It’s the kick in the butt I need to start stuffing a contractor bag with broken window screens and miniature bits of this and that.
I can’t feel guilt. I won’t feel guilty.
I separate out the recyclables – a mountain my garbagemen will be hating me for come the first Friday in June. And I let Jonathan pile the rest on my neighbor’s trailer, bound for a new home away from mine.
I walked around in my shed without tripping once, perched in a lawn chair that fit upright in a corner without fear I’d tumble backward into a pile of cat litter poured out on an oil spill or into a bag of mulch.
I took a glance through my attic and saw a clear path to my box of wrapping paper and bows, a neat pile of tubs brimming with Jillian’s clothes.
Even the thought of my carbon footprint, my space in the shrinking landfill, can’t stop me now. It’s good riddance to bad rubbish, for free!
And it leaves me free to fill my closets with doodads and “can’t live withouts.” I’m free to stow away the makings of a memory book for Jillian, to stash clothes I vow to fit into again one day, to load up on the super size portions from Sam’s Club even as I stare the expiration date in the face.
I can’t say goodbye just yet to the packrat inside, but she’ll be seeing you at the fall clean-up with a contractor bag or two.

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