Pile Shifting

Growing up, I’d come home from school sometimes to find my bed piled high with anything I owned that wasn’t where it was supposed to be. In addition to clutter, the massive mound included the contents of any drawers, closets, or shelves that didn’t measure up to Mom’s very high standards. The experience left a lasting impression.

Before I could do anything else, I had to deal with the pile and pass inspection. Everything had to be neatly stored — a place for everything, and everything in its place. To get there, I sorted Mount Clutter into smaller and smaller piles until everything was put up or tossed out. Pile shifting remains my preferred way to deal with clutter.

The last few weeks of 2017 I made room for the ex in my little house. Selling his condo and moving back in with me was a big step for him that didn’t change much for me. He rented out his condo and stayed in my guest room for most of the last four years. The few months when he wasn’t staying at my house, he often wanted to stay with me — a safe harbor in very stormy seas.

To make room for his possessions, I moved everything but the bed and a bedside table from the guest room and then cleared out the spare room, three closets, and a bathroom. Turns out, he didn’t need that much space. He gave away everything he didn’t want when he sold the condo and passed away less than three months later.

His family cleared out most of the rest shortly after he died, leaving the things I wanted and assorted odds and ends. I chipped away at it a little at a time, starting with the guest bedroom and working my way through the rest until everything left was piled in the spare room. A combination of rainy weather and nothing else to do motivated me to deal with the rest over the long Memorial Day weekend.

Having everything where it belongs is an idyllic state I have yet to achieve. The ex (and his predecessors) rarely put anything back where it belonged. Inspired by the gorgeous closets, cabinets and drawers I’ve reorganized and knowing they will stay that way (mostly), I’m determined to redo every drawer, cabinet, and closet in the house.

It’s Mom’s fault pile shifting and having everything in its place makes me so happy. Her sister used to bring people over to see Mom’s closets. When I’m done, maybe I’ll show you mine…