Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stuff


I am a little overwhelmed. You would not believe the amount of stuff that travels with a college student home for the summer. They have had a whole life set up away from the little apartment where we live, all the artifacts of a home away from home, and now all those things, packed in bins or spilling out of suitcases and hampers, are just...there. My kids rooms look like a tornado swept through, and there simply isn't anywhere to put the stuff. Sure the clothes have been/will be repacked in drawers, and hung in the closet, but the comforters and lamps, the winter wear in plastic bins, the books, the random things that I can't even identify, where do they go? I am stepping over and around everything, and averting my eyes, and I clean the kitchen and tidy the living room with manic intensity, desperate for a corner of order in the house. But they are spread out into the living room too, my son's tee-shirt and shoes shucked off, socks soon joining the mess, books and cups and nail polish and magazines and laptops propped on every surface, comforters they wrap themselves in while watching TV trailing on the floor.

I've been trying to ignore it. The alternative is to bitchbitchbitch and they just got home. I'm trying to allow them to enjoy their reentry. I'm trying to just let life happen. At some point I suggest they clean up after themselves and they do. But I'm trying not to be the OCD police about it. And hope springs eternal that they'll just do the dishes and pick up after themselves without being prodded. People who live in houses with basements and attics and guest rooms and extensive counter space and closets are probably not so overrun, but we live in a small apartment and there is no space for anything extra, and I'm not sure what to do other than live with the chaos until summer ends and one of the two packs up her gear and moves back into the dorm, and that's not a moment that I want to arrive sooner than it has to. The other one will have to discard and give away a lot of what he brought home. There's just no other way that I can see for this to go.

This morning as I left for work, they mentioned that this friend and that friend might be coming over and I looked around the house, not quite believing they were contemplating actually bringing people into the mess, but I just shrugged and said, Sure, just clean up a bit will you? And they said, We will. And I know I might not notice any difference when they're done. Except my son did all his laundry yesterday, an impressive mountain of clothing, and he folded every single item, the neatness almost militaristic, and this morning he placed the folded clothes in careful piles on his desk (no, not yet in drawers), and that was something, a definite intentional start. But there are other items of clothing still strewn around his room. Are they the clean stuff? The stuff to be donated? How can one person have so much stuff? So yes, I avert my eyes.

12 comments:

  1. I remember coming home from uni with one footlocker, one large suitcase and three boxes, all of which fit into a closet. My mother complained bitterly that I had too much...Through years of moving, I got used to having very little.

    Take heart, this does not last forever.

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    1. e, i know it will pass, and i will miss it sorely when it's gone! i used to bring my college stuff to my aunt's apartment but she had an enclosed terrace so a cousin and I used to put all our stuff our there. i would love a terrace now! xo

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  2. This post reminds me of when I too came home from living at the university. My dad continuously asking...."but do you NEED this?" It'll get better, everyone will get situated and the stories of each university themed artifact will fill your apartment!

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    1. Miss Rachell, nice to see you. I am about to sound just like you dad, lol.

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  3. I get it. My daughter leaves a trail of stuff wherever she happens to be and no amount of asking, pleading or bitching helps. It's not intentional, she doesn't even notice it. It's a giant thorn in my side at the moment. But you know...those moments do pass.
    Then there's all the baby gear....

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    1. Yolie, i remember baby gear. Your comment actually makes me think that these moments pass only to come again, they're cyclical, baby, school, college, young adult, grandbabies. When I think of it that way, I see the blessing of it! Hugs, friend.

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  4. I think houses are like purses- the bigger, the more stuff you put in them. This is just the way it is. A rule of nature.
    But...there does reach a point. And you can't just go out and buy a new apartment the way you can a purse.

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    1. Ms Moon, I think you are right. In my twenties I think I moved apartments so often because I used to love divesting myself of all the stuff. Not so easy now. Truth be told, I need to start in my own room...xo

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  5. Ha! Stuff is indeed the curse of the modern age. When I moved home from the dorms I don't remember having more than I set out with -- but then, maybe I'm not remembering accurately. I should ask my mom!

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    1. Steve, don't you think we have more stuff now that when we were in college? My husband went to college with one sheet from home (Star War motif!) and two towels and his clothes. And when he went home at the end of it, he had a suitcase and a box. Done. Hard to compare my story because I went from college into my own apartment, so there was a place to put my stuff. In any case, it's good to have them home!

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  6. I'm smiling with you, not at you. I am stepping over shoes, backpacks, duffels, boxes, bags, stuff, stuff, stuff, and no one but me seems to be minding the clutter. I fear I will be having a Cinderella summer, always home scrubbing and cleaning while everyone else is out and about, having fun. I'm trying to set some groundrules, but it's hard when 3/4 of the family is more add than ocd. I've already started boxing up the things I think won't be needed until next semester for my son, and today I am tackling the mountain of laundry. Teenagers seem to mostly sleep eat and leave. I might have to try that trick for a day or two this summer and see how it feels.
    Good luck staying sane in your home newly decorated with kid clutter, and I'll try to do the same. I'd pay a fortune to see either of my kids fold laundry with military precision.
    But in the back of my mind is the constant thought that this will not last, that in the blink of an eye, I'll have my tidy, quiet, lonely little life back, so I'm trying to embrace the chaos while it's here.

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    1. Mel, I chortled when i read "3/4 of the family is more ADD than OCD." Same over here! And then I laughed again, in pure rueful recognition, when you said the thing about teenagers "mostly eat, sleep and leave." Okay. So what we are experiencing is a normal part of it all. Nice to know! Hugs.

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