Cleaning the Closet

Wallpaper - Hyacinth, pattern #480 - 1915-17
Wallpaper – Hyacinth, pattern #480 – 1915-17 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been decluttering my apartment — but I’d rather be in Paris.

I hired a home organizer, the Clutter Whisperer, and bribed a girlfriend, Barbara, to help me declutter my stuff. My brother and sis-in-law helped a lot too.

“The 1970s called, Mary Beth,” my bro Brendan said. “They want their chair back.”

I cannot do this kind of spelunking alone. Or without some humor, apparently.

Cynthia, a.k.a., the Clutter Whisperer, whom I found years ago on Craigslist, gave me some advice: purge your books and your clothes. I like her nonjudgmental approach. She said I’d do well in a big old farmhouse rather than a NYC apartment. That’s nice. I’d do better with a backpack in Europe too.

In my defense, as I tell my mother, “City apartments don’t have garages, basements, attics, big closets, cars, or home offices.” I know. I know. We have museums and parks. And I’d take them any day. I like experiences way better than things. But I have to get rid of the things so that I can have the experiences.

I thought when I left my job a year ago, I’d stay on top of my family’s stuff. A family of five just accumulates. And with Chris’s Parkinson’s, he’s a bit slower to help or initiate decluttering.

Also, I’ve been way more interested in my biz and my freelancing work than in home-centered activities.

I have excellent taste. I’m good at noticing (and sometimes making) beautiful things, I’m just not good at showcasing them or bidding them farewell (as in kids’ art projects!)

When working on my closet Friday, Barbara offered me this quote from William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.” Tall order. As I cleaned the closet, I found:

  • a journal from my raft trip on the Rio Grande in 1992
  • Hi8 tapes from the kids as toddlers
  • an orange tank top with the price still affixed (LOVE orange, but often wear the basic NYC black!)

These things were all kind of beautiful and kind of useful. The “kind-ofs” get me. I hang on to “kind of.”

I am asking the kids to join me in the purging of books and clothes.

I feel like contacting Gretchen Rubin. In her book The Happiness Project she talks about the joys of decluttering and, even, gasp, keeping an empty shelf. I’d like to do that. I’d like be a minimalist. I’d like to escape to Europe.

Right now, I’m traveling through my daughters’ seventh grade papers, going back in time. And if I’m lucky, I’ll recycle the past and move into the present, perhaps even experience a park or museum today.

Lost on Siesta Key

“On the day of the miracle…”

I got up early from our condo on the south end of Siesta Key. I decided to walk the two or three miles to Crescent Market to pick up juice and breakfast for the girls. I would walk via the beach, taking photos, meditating, cogitating, generally meandering, until I could cut over to the main drag of Siesta Key, Midnight Pass Road. So far, so good.

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I set off early and happily for a beach walk from our south end of Siesta Key condo.

I walked and snapped a few pictures with my phone. So far, so good.

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pretty sights along the way

Then the beach was interrupted by a big jetty of brown rocks. Simple enough.

Time to head to the road. There was no pathway. I walked a little this way and that, but there seemed to be no simple (or public) walkway to the road from the beach

I could see the road, but I couldn’t get to it. “Well, I’ll simply have to run across this millionaire’s lawn to get to the road,” I thought.

“But run fast,” I told myself, “these Southern folk pack heat for this very occasion — a middle-aged mother trespassing.” I picked an unoccupied mansion and I bolted across the manicured lawn, ready to dodge a bullet if necessary.

Phew, I looked back. I made it. Here I was on Midnight — What the hell! I wasn’t on Midnight Pass Road, but trapped on some private millionaires’ road. Shit. I figured I’ll have to walk back towards where I came.

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This was the first lawn I trespassed on, running across the lawn, hoping to get back to the road.

I started to get sweaty. I walked out on an abandoned dock to locate the bridge back to Midnight Pass, but there was only a wide lagoon that seemed to go on for miles. No bridge in sight. I thought for a fleeting second, Could I swim that? I thought about gators. No! I couldn’t swim it.

I continued walking back south until the road ended. I walked on a trail, clearly marked private property.

Shit. I’m lost on Siesta Key, a slip of land that I thought only had one road. I called my brother Brendan. He told me to use my phone’s GPS.

The phone told me I was just off of Sanderling Road. It told me to head north for miles. I walked back through the trail to the millionaires’ road.

There were no cars, no people, only manicured bushes, fences, walls along Sanderling road. I heard a sprinkler and thought I spotted a gardener who eyed me suspiciously. I finally saw a garbage truck headed for me. I flagged him down. But the driver couldn’t hear me over his truck and told me to go back to the beach. “There’s no way out from Sanderling road, except the way I’d come,” he said, gesturing north. “Way back there,” as if the entrance to this gates community was just a memory.

I called my brother again, getting desperate. asking for rescue. “Okay, I’ll come get you. But I don’t know if they’ll let me on the private road. I have my boat in tow.” I walked back to the beach. This time, I thought, let them shoot me. I am freely trespassing. I am flaunting my trespass. At least I’ll get out of this nightmare.

My brother called me on my phone. (I noted, my battery was running low.)

“Hey, I’m almost on Sanderling Road. But I’m stuck. The guard waved me through, but there’s a tree down in the road. See if you can walk back towards me.” Again, I trespassed. This time, through a manicured Buddha garden. I even stopped for a moment to admire the sculptured tranquility separating the empty beach from the Sanderling community.

I walked. I perspired. I was hungry. Walking north, I passed a dogwalker who wore headphones and a black tee shirt. I nodded at her (or him, I couldn’t tell). He/she ignored me.

Apparently, the only human beings on Sanderling road are the hired help and they look suspiciously at anyone they encounter.

This story ends happily. After all, I have lived to tell the story. I walked a ways. My brother eventually showed up, because they cleared the downed tree. He managed to circle around with the boat and get us off of Sanderling.

We had a beautiful day out on his boat. My getting lost on Siesta Key will become a distant memory (I hope!)

But I offer this advice to any walker on the south end of Siesta Key beach: never leave the beach, thinking you can get back on Midnight Pass Road. If you do, you may never return.

I took the first line from this post from The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, a new and brilliant novel I was reading on the beach yesterday. I add it as a prompt from today’s daily post challenge.