Once a year, give or take, some of us do what we call spring cleaning – of our closets, our drawers, or the entire house. Most are known to do this around Christmas time prior to putting up the newly bought curtains. I once did it on an Independence Day holiday, but nowadays I do it whenever I have the time.
It was upon moving to my present home that I realized that I either hadn’t made the time, or I wasn’t doing my cleaning very well because apparently, I never threw anything out. Old curtains that I never re-used, well-thumbed magazines, shoes past their prime, baby blankets long bereft of that I-could-just-eat-you-up-smell, even baby teeth and the first lock of hair. The last two items were probably held for sentimental reasons, but I really can’t explain the rest.
I don’t think I’m entirely to blame. I believe that many of us who grew up in the Caribbean, had parents who, even though they purchased a replacement for an item, would still keep the old one because they never knew when they would have to turn back to it again. I won’t go into the wedding presents that years later have yet to be used, or the “special” items that never came out for the special occasion.
Even in my own household, I still held on to an iron that no longer worked, because I knew that when the electricity went off (as sometimes happens here), I could place it on the stove’s lit burner and iron my clothes. Necessity really is the mother of invention, and I thought that I had come up with that brilliant idea all by myself until I heard that it was called a “goose”, and then I cut off the cord.
Nowadays, when cleaning out my drawers and closets I employ a certain rule. If I haven’t used the item since the last cleaning, it means I don’t need it. If I’ve used it once or twice I will consider keeping it – but getting back into the closet may depend on whatever room is left. This cleansing process is part-stroll down memory lane and part-reality check because you find out how much or how little you have changed – in size, in taste or preferences and in expectations.
I’m thinking that this process of purging could serve many of us well in our relationships too. For some of my clothing items, I had to ask myself what I was thinking when I purchased them. Other items that didn’t fit then, might fit me now, but I had already determined that they would suit someone else better. In tossing them, it has allowed me to make more room for new pieces, while the items that I do keep are the ones that I continue to go back to – time and time again.