It’s been a busy few weeks: a week in Bath, which was great but complicated by a sinus infection that left me partially deaf in both ears (not wonderfully beneficial to singing), then a week in Whitby which started out in glorious sunshine and ended in the most torrential rain I can remember in years. Now I’m at dad’s house, slowly making my way through the phenomenal quantities of stuff that clogs up my room.
My room here isn’t very big, but it certainly isn’t unusually small. It contains a single bed, a desk with a small bookcase at one end, a washstand, an old-fashioned dressing table with drawers, and a wardrobe, all of which leave sufficient space to walk around and use the room comfortably. It also contains a folding-leaf table, an extra chest of drawers, a Z-bed, a dozen boxes of university books, kitchen implements, clothes, bedding and other things I’ve accumulated over the last two years, a bean bag, numerous bags filled with clothes and towels, and until yesterday, all my school work since year seven.
It’s the second sentence that’s causing the problems, as you can probably imagine. The door doesn’t open fully, and in order to get to the bed I have to jump over mounds of things and tiptoe carefully in tiny gaps of floor. Xander and I spent three hours yesterday throwing away armfuls of junk and paper, but the room looks no better, probably because most of the rubbish came off the desk or out of the drawers. The floor space is even smaller than before since I’ve arrived with my luggage from the last two weeks.
It’s disheartening to see how much work we need to put in for the room to be usable again, and shocking to see how many useless and unnecessary possessions I’ve got. Other than the bags I arrived with and my university stuff, none of the items in that room are things I need – that’s why they’ve been sitting there, gathering dust, for the past four years. And yet I have never been able to find the time or the motivation to get rid of them, whilst simultaneously Gill has been understandably moving things into my room in order to make the rest of the house more functional, with the net result that even in my absence the mess is steadily growing.
The difficulty is probably threefold. Firstly, I am a terrible hoarder and we moved to this house when I was eleven, so a decade’s worth of junk has made its way into one small room. Secondly, I have no real place of my own at the moment, so even things that are actively useful most of the time still have to spend a proportion of their time being stored there, despite the fact that the room is already full of rubbish. And thirdly, this house was bought as a family home for four people. It now contains at least some of the possessions of eight people. It’s basic maths – there isn’t room for all of it.
This time next year, the house will need to go on the market, because its function has changed and it isn’t really suitable any more. But before that can happen, we need to clear it from top to bottom and that means I have to be ruthless in throwing away things I can’t manage to drag around the country with me, and realistic about what I really need.
So today and tomorrow I’ll be the one in the tiny room, trying desperately to make a discernible difference to the state of my mouse-infested bedroom (I could hear them last night, chewing things and rustling, but I haven’t worked out which things yet – please don’t let it be my newly-purchased clogs or my 1950s sundress). Next week I’ll be the one doing the same thing in the thankfully mouse-free bedroom at mum’s house. And next month I’ll be the one very, very happy to be back in Cambridge where my stuff can sit for at least ten months without being in anyone else’s way.