Maybe the title of this is misleading, and I haven’t even started. Because I spent all day yesterday cleaning— shampooing carpets, and I paid a service to help me, and a handyman to fix things, and it reminded me: I am not my best self when I move. People see the dust bunnies and the things that you can mostly hide, like that you haven’t moved some of your furniture since you moved in, and it is gross underneath those pieces, and you can just feel the judgment. I don’t take those moments well.
I’m trying not to take the easy way out, this move. I moved something like a dozen times, in my 20s, counting moving into and out of the dorm every year. It slowed down in my 30s, but some things don’t change. Some moves, I’ve gotten to the point that I’m just over it, or I’ve run out of time, and so I packed entire boxes full of stuff I didn’t know what else to do with. I tried to go through those boxes from my last move before this move, and I’m trying not to pack boxes that can only be labelled “random stuff.” To the extent that’s possible. But it’s a slow process. I was taught not to throw anything out that could be reused, so I have a bunch of stuff I ought not ever to have kept. I have taken several carloads of stuff to the thrift store and wager I’ve nearly filled the dumpster and recycling dumpsters single-handedly, this month. (Not all at once and not with furniture or other restricted items.) Between the cleaning I’ve done this month and the Lenten Challenge, I’m pretty sure I got my 40 bags worth out of the house. But there was still a lot of surface clutter when the cleaners came, yesterday.
The first woman who came spoke basically no English. I said “is there anything I can do to make your job easier?” expecting her to say something about an area she needed me to focus on. She pointed up the stairs and said “I start downstairs.” I sat downstairs and continued to shred financial documents that I’ve held onto for far too long. Awhile later, another girl came, I guess to work in a team. She had more English, and told me what I thought I knew, which was that the surface clutter was causing them problems. I explained that I understood, but I needed more information about what needed doing, because this was all new to me. She said “I don’t know where to start.” So I set about clearing all surfaces. And once I got down to it, it wasn’t easy, but I got clarity about what needed to stay and what needed to go, and was able to make fast decisions and deal with 90 percent of the surfaces in the house. It was liberating, in a certain way. I’ve hauled a lot of this stuff around for many years, never knowing quite what to do with it, always hedging against the day when I’d need it again. I’m accepting that the day is not likely to come, and if I do need the stuff again, I’ll be able to replace it.
But I felt like a little kid, being told to clean her room or I’d be grounded. It was hard not to pout as I did it, and I felt, right or wrong, that they used it as an excuse not to work as hard (a lot of talking on the phone, to each other, and texting.) At the end, she said something about scheduling a follow-up appointment, but there’s no scenario where I see that happening. Don’t get me wrong, they did a good job. They weren’t wrong about the clutter; but I did feel humiliated by the way they addressed it. My windows had been recently washed, the floors had been swept and recently vacuumed, bed made, no dishes in the sink— the handyman who had been there in the morning and is a little fastidious (used most of a roll of paper towels by himself, on a recent visit, among other evidence), said he thought my place would sell in a hot minute, and he saw it before I had spent several days aggressively cleaning and clutter-busting. I find it difficult to believe my place was in such rough shape they didn’t know where to begin.
But I do get defensive. I feel like I need to explain how hard I work and how much is on my plate, and apologize for not being more fastidious. If I were as fastidious as they indicated I should have been before they got there, I can’t imagine what would have had me call in professionals to help me make the place ready, but whatever.
Between now and when I move, if you see a dust bunny in my place, I’d let it go or deal with it quietly and not bring it up to me. It’s just safer that way.