Saturday, March 20, 2004


Spring-cleaning is wasted on the organized and orderly, which is sad, because they're probably the only people who still do it. I never really cared for cleaning (so bad for the hands), but a recent experience has made me look at it quite differently: Don't think about dusting and scrubbing, lifting and rearranging. Think about 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', about archeology and ancient history, about pirates and their treasure-chests.

This experience was a necessary cleaning-out of several closets and cupboards; necessary, because opening the doors caused an avalanche. I expected to be bored to death. What I actually had was one of the most interesting afternoons of my life, and this is what I found:
Five Radios
Several Unopened Advertizing-Size Boxes of Cereal
A Pair of Bright Red Leather Shoes
Enough Cotton Balls/Wool to Keep the Ears of the U.S. Military Forces Clean
Six Blocks for the Quilt 'Dresden Plates'
One Mummified Boxing Shoe

You might not find this list very interesting, of course, and maybe it isn't. But what is interesting is the history it tells (well, some of it, anyway, I have no idea who owns the red shoes and how they got into the linen closet). The cereal boxes are a memento of a time when I had decided to see if it was possible to stay alive by only eating the free samples in stores. It isn't, by the way, but one meets an interesting class of individuals that way. The radios have to do with the striving to find the Perfect Radio and a natural laziness in returning duds. I'm going to give them to charity.

The cotton balls I inherited from someone who had an obsessive fear of running out of cotton to stick in the ears. I have enough for several lifetimes. The quilt blocks were the output of one of my homebody phases. They could make a quilt for a very short and a very wide person almost as they are. The boxing shoe was once one of a pair, and brings back many fond memories of broken noses (not all mine) and of the one fight I won because I pinched the guy. The referee was a coward and refused to accept my superiority. Sigh. I no longer box because I have seen the light (and my back hurts), but the smell of the shoe still makes me wax nostalgic.

It's like personal archeology in the making, isn't it? And this is possible for everyone of us who decides to tackle spring-cleaning. Tomorrow I will clean the shelves and put everything back from the floors. I swear.