While I check out occasional de-cluttering or organizing tips in Real Simple magazine or at oprah.com, I don’t find them nearly as valuable or useful as what I already have: I have a Mo.
My husband Eric, fondly known as Mo, is the assault weapon we use to combat the build up of junk at our house. That’s not to say that our garage, countertops and closets are totally neat and organized. Far from it. We do have two rambunctious young boys. But Mo stays on top of things, and without him, I’ll admit, we’d be up to our ears in stuff.
But here’s the problem. His definition of junk can differ from mine. And when he finds something that he deems garbage, into the can it goes. He moves like a phantom, slipping it in, in silence. Sometimes I’ll come across it a few hours or days later and remove it, not quite ready to part with it. There are many times the item almost goes unnoticed. This week, it was a floor mat. Other times it’s been the shell of a remote control car that I just know can be put back together. Or a holiday Santa that might simply need one new bulb.
One time, he found what he must’ve seen as faded, cracked pink flip-flops and tossed them in the garbage can in the garage.
I moved quickly, grabbing them off the top.
“Um, those are the Flojos I wore in college. Flojos aren’t garbage.”
All I could see was the bright pink neon sandals that had looked so great with a toga. Never mind that they were now too small and uncomfortable. It was the sentimental value: Flojos weren’t garbage.
His stealth-like moves aren’t limited to garbage. He’s the same way monitoring DVR recordings. When the “full” percentage starts to creep up into the double digits—hence cluttering up the hard drive—he gets anxious and takes action.
“What happened to ‘The Tourist’?” I asked one night when I was ready to settle in for a movie and discovered that the one with Angelina Jolie was gone.
“I deleted it.”
“But we didn’t even watch it,” I protested.
A shrug and a smile.
Nothing was safe.
Thankfully, I managed to hold on to the series finales of “Friday Night Lights” and “24” for a couple of months, but that’s only because I issued several terse reminders (and warnings).
And so it goes.
He cleans and de-clutters. I get nostalgic and retrieve.
Back and forth, like a dance.
And while he is learning to ask before he dumps (or deletes), I am also learning to let go of stuff.
I even give a shrug and a smile, and leave things in the garbage.
After all, sometimes it really is just junk.