The Great Purge

The chains of apathy were broken recently. It’s really easy for me to come home, get comfortable, and slide into complacency. For me to just sit on the couch, bring up my Netflix queue and disappear into back to back episodes of House of Cards. Sometimes it’s not Netflix. Sometimes it’s worse. The XBox and my Playstation are equally good – if not more so – at taking my full bandwidth.

Given that, other things in the house tend to get out of hand.

I’m not good at cleaning. I hate keeping up with the Joneses. Every minute I spend scrubbing a toilet, or destroying the copious amount of junk mail I receive, or shredding bank statements, or any of the other tiny little details of everyday life that others do without thinking about it make me feel chained and resentful. Little pockets of entropy begin to form, then they turn into a pile, and those piles turn into heaps. I’m not exactly a hoarder I think. Hoarders keep stuff because they keep stuff. They get attached to stuff that is, in essence, garbage. I’d sooner toss all of my detritus that gathers, I’m just… lazy. I put my effort into stuff that I feel is more important. Writing, being with my girlfriend, hanging out around a table with friends and polyhedral dice, reading. Housework sucks by comparison.

Well, after a while I usually hit a purge cycle. I look at the stuff in my house and try to manage it. Mostly this ‘management’ comes in the form of ‘ordering’ things. Maybe I pack up some stuff to sell to 2nd and Charles. Maybe a token box to Goodwill. But some corners are simply too entrenched. I leave them be. Best to let sleeping dragons lie.

Not this past two weeks though.

My apartment had gotten to be a shit hole. The bathroom was dirty. The kitchen was grungy. I’d been lax with garbage and recycling. It was filthy.

It’s not Madame Heap I mind so much as the potential she has to draw those irritating rats.

As it is wont to happen, external sources informed me of my squalor. It came as rude awakening and I can’t say it was wholly unexpected. It’s not that I don’t see the tides rising. It’s hard to miss. An entire three lower bookshelves had been lost due to the stacks formed from hastily moving stuff out of the way enough to make living possible. It was becoming difficult to move. Getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom was perilous without light. This and more was pointed out to me and I slowly took in another fact.

I’m in a position in which I will likely be moving in the next year. If all of this stuff is still here, moving is going to be a nightmare.

The Great Purge had come. And I was to be its vessel.

The purge in this case reaffirmed to me that I am not, in fact, a Hoarder. I have been merciless in my expurgation of my clutter. I have found all sorts of stuff that I have had to ask myself ‘why did I keep this?’ I have dumped a lot of old mail and magazines that simply got put into a place called ‘out of sight’ where I could deal with them after I’d had my fill of reading for the day; a strategy doomed to failure since I can read from my arrival home until bedtime – or well after bedtime. I have taken an entire carload of old clothes, VHS tapes I can’t even play anymore, and old housewares to Goodwill. I have traded in many old volumes no longer needed to 2nd and Charles. I have thoroughly cleansed the bathroom, scrubbing sink, toilet, and shower within an inch of their structural integrity. I have removed all of the little tokens and effluvia from the Bar area of the kitchen and made counter space more orderly. I have archived art that was laying haphazardly around the place, and I have freed my long disused art table. Now that everything is off of the places above and the dust has begun to settle, it’s now at the vacuuming stage.

And god help me it’s not done. I still have an entire desk to purge – surfaces and drawers – and while the walk in closet has been ruthlessly organized, half of it is now filled with boxes vacated in the purge itself. These boxes await their purpose to be realized in the coming months when much of what I have will be moved out to storage to accommodate a third person in my living space.

I hate this dance, the constant strain on lower back and shoulder, the sweating, the feeling of dust coating my hands and throat, the kneeling and scrubbing. I started last night around seven and didn’t stop until just short of midnight.

But when I hit the sack last night, I fell into the sleep of the just. Babies don’t sleep that well. And to add to that, I feel this strange surge of accomplishment. Like I’ve done something. I’m not used to feeling good about cleaning. Finishing the act tends to bring thoughts of the next time I’ll have to do this. And yes, I’ve been told if I keep on top of it it won’t be like this, but remember the above – I’d rather be doing anything else than keeping up for sake of appearances.

But, I don’t know. Maybe there’s something to it. The feeling like I have regained control of my living space. To be able to have company over again without having to clear things away for them. Being able to host a dinner at a table that is actually not just another storage area (though it is now – I need a staging area to handle the clutter until this is done).

Time will tell.

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