I love spring cleaning. I love it so much that I do it all year long. You can feel free to stop reading now, but I promise I am not a total nerd. Spring cleaning is enormously rewarding. It’s the one time when I can take clutter and distractions, and eliminate them once and for all. I can find the perfect place for Tupperware and winter coats, and then I can sit back in my kitchen chair and admire my shining artwork (no outside editing, grade or approval required.) I can organize my photos chronologically, and store old negatives in each album so that they are amazingly easy to find should duty call.
It is during cleaning that I can categorize books, clothes, tools and dishes. I can put them in their place and count on them to be there when I need them. Often, in mere moments, what was once unsightly or inefficient, is now fantastically organized.
I know I am not alone in this pursuit of perfection. I have a friend who is a single mom. Nothing in her house is as organized as her closet. It’s complete with colour-coding and matching hangers. She once told me that if I ever came over and saw it looking otherwise to proceed with extreme caution. Another friend irons when she’s angry. She stores the wrinkled laundry in a heap in the spare room until she’s good and angry. And then, something about the stacks of neatly folded, freshly pressed garments soothes her. One friend actually categorizes his CDs monthly. When they are out of order, life is that much more complicated.
I’ll admit that a part of me would be so satisfied if I could meet people and be able to file them away as “fun friend” or “mean gossip.” I’d love to be able to tell my friends that that guy is best used in spring and summer — don’t count on him for everyday wear. I’d love for someone to be able to tell me, the way a designer can look at a room and determine wall colours and window treatments, that “this” is what I am and “this” is what would work best with me.
The simplicity seduces me, but like stacks of perfectly folded sheets, I know it’s impossible. It’s the potential of perfection, the messy stuff, that’s really fulfilling — the pursuit as opposed to the perfection. It’s the decision to get an education, change jobs, buy a house; it’s an engagement on hold (will they or won’t they marry? Ohthedrama!), the pregnant woman waiting to see what she’s having, the road trip to a place you’ve never been. I get it, really.
I should have done some research for this article, come up with some statistics about the psychology of spring cleaning or something like that. But life can’t be dismissed that easily. We aren’t so simple that one can just rattle off a few statistics and sum us all up or change people’s minds. Much to my dismay, we won’t be categorized. And so, I’ll return to colour-coding my closet.