My husband and I are about to start a new adventure. We are moving, although our destination is undecided, and it’s time to put our house on the market. If you’ve ever moved, you know the next thing that happens. Not choosing a realtor, not painting the woodwork.
Michael’s plan to declutter is simple. Dump everything in the trash. Being something of a hoarder, mine’s a bit more advanced. Go through the house, weigh carefully the pros and cons of packing or tossing. Keep almost everything.
Our differences–which I call the Goldilocks System–actually make for a fairly sane strategy, because we’re forced to compromise. This pile is too large, this pile is too small, this pile is just right.
Last weekend Michael decided to clean out the desk in our living room. I told you his plan, and he was true to form. All the papers in the top drawer were dumped into our recycling container on the theory that if we hadn’t looked at them for years, there was nothing worthwhile among them. I told you my plan, too. I took them out and began to sort, receipt by receipt, envelope by envelope.
Oddly enough for once, my system made sense. Half of the older receipts had credit card numbers on them. So with great pride I carefully piled them for shredding and tried to keep the “I told you sos” to a minimum.
Then I found treasure. Among unopened envelopes containing pleas for money and credit card applications, were two checks. Checks! Written at the end of the twentieth century. Checks mixed in with mail we had apparently tossed in the drawer as our movers were packing to move us from Ohio to Virginia. Checks totalling about $200.
Enter my plan once again. The checks had expired, but I didn’t assume they had been reissued and cashed. Never look a treasure trove in the mouth. So I did some research. As it turns out one check had been referred to a website aptly called missingmoney.com. All I had to do was do a bit of paperwork and the money will eventually be mine. The second was as simple as an email.
As a writer I hoard ideas. Characters I’ve considered and tossed in one novel show up in another. Plot fragments I’ve ignored too long work their way into new books. Themes I forgot to use are reissued in a slightly updated form and valued more for what they can now accomplish. Either I’m a novelist because I hate to let go of any idea before its fully used, or I’m a hoarder because I’ve seen how worthwhile, how useful, the simplest most inconsequential things can be.
And in the long run, as long as the house gets cleaned and the books get written, does it matter?