The Wide Angle: Ranger of the north and spare bedrooms
There has to be a time where enough is enough.
You’ve trudged the weary and downtrodden trail for so long you feel as if you’ll never recover, but then you stand strong, face the raging storm and scream, “no more.”
That happened to me the other day when I stood, alone and somber, in what serves as our upstairs office. Around me was the slightly controlled chaos of two lazy people: Boxes with things that hadn’t been unpacked since we moved into the office, piles of papers relating to this, that and the other thing.
A computer desk where I could write my name in the dust. Other odds and ends that cluttered almost every corner of the room.
For months I had sat in relative contentment, okay with sitting in the mess we created. What really brought it to the forefront was an act of nature. No, check that. It was an Act of Buster.
By now you know Buster and the mildly controlled hurricane he is, but if you don’t, just ask my nine readers. They’ll tell you that Buster is at best contained for a few minutes before uncorking some kind of minor tribulation.
The one night, after hearing the familiar race through the house that was Nemi running for her life from the torment of her adopted older brother, I raced from the bedroom, only to fall headlong into a flurry of cat madness, trying to locate the two in a house devoid of lights and tripping over their cat tunnel, nearly falling in the process and coming up with a few lovely new swear words in the process.
I wish I had written them down.
In this case though, Buster was being relatively subdued, following me upstairs like he usually does and taking his place in front of the register so the rest of the room would freeze.
However, after about a half an hour of twisting and turning, murring and generally complaining, he walked out and jumped up on Janeen’s drawing table where, with little to no reason, pushed a box off the table.
We both watched as the box hit the ground and spilled all over the floor. No doubt we had competing thoughts in regard to this new development.
Buster probably thought, “Huh, falls straight down.” While I thought, “Huh, I wonder if the Mower County Humane Society will take him back?”
But the mess our little man created was actually a wake up call to pretend to be an adult for at least an afternoon.
I took a couple days off, mostly to just decompress and get away from the major part of adulting — earning a living. During this time, amongst other pursuits that mostly consisted of seeing how long I could spend my break in sweat pants and indulging way to much in the PlayStation 4, I decided to do just that.
Sit upstairs and actually clean something.
You can ask my parents if you ever meet them, but cleaning has never really been my forte. As a youth, my room was a well-defined maze of paths through discarded clothes, toys, mixed tapes [I grew up in the era of mixed tapes so just leave it be] and other hazards associated with being a kid.
While my mom failed to understand the nuanced layout of my paths something I would add, might have stumped the most talented of trackers. I came to appreciate the deft movements needed to move from door to bed, bed to closet, closet to door and any other combination of movements my room set-up demanded.
Like any good mom, she inevitably laid down the hammer: Clean or else. Now, that’s not as dire as it sounds. The “or else” was never so dramatic as being locked away in the Bastille, watching the revolution that was my friends having fun at my expense as I looked woefully down from behind the bars so far up off the ground.
However, it felt like it sometimes, and admittedly cleaning often came with the shrewd rearranging of said clutter under the bed or behind the door to the closet more than actual, organized cleaning. In my mind, I didn’t have time for such trivial details as folding laundry, or putting away dishes or figuring out why that one pile of clothes moved on its own.
There was kickball to play, bikes to race, the woods to travail and all sorts of other hijinks and shenanigans to get into and let me tell you — we were awfully good at hijinks. Pros really. I mean, it’s not every kid who can claim they scaled at least some parts of every church in town and the school in town.
Unfortunately, there were no hijinks to be had on the day I decide to do something about the office.
Standing once again in the middle of the room, surveying the stashes of boxes and papers, the task of what I needed to do began to grow that much higher. I had Post-It notes everywhere, with little bits of information mixed on the small writing surfaces, some needed, others not needed.
Then there were the boxes. What do you throw? What do you keep? Did I really need that thing I didn’t know I had? Do I want to throw it away, that thing I may or may not need?
As I thought about these things, Buster joined me, sitting on the edge of the drawing table, managing the situation, perhaps more than a little judgmentally.
It took me a good part of the afternoon to finally find spots on the floor I hadn’t seen since we moved in, but it was worth it in the end. The office is more less clean, with a little more to do, but there is also the other room upstairs, the basement, the garage and the living room which is a never-ending fight to keep clean.
Wonder if I’m still the pathfinder I once was?
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