My house is undergoing a painting job after 10 years. It could have been postponed if not for the leakage problem. And since we needed to solve the leaking, we might as well paint the peeling wall, and this lead to painting the whole house.
Painting the walls required us to unload the many baggage we hoarded over the years, as shelves needed to be empty for the cupboards to be moved, storeroom needed to be cleared and cluttered corners cleaned.
It was easy helping my son clean up his room – there was no sentimental attachment for me and he belongs to the generation who are used to “use and throw”.
When it came to my stuff, it was harder to part even as I kept the rule – “things which has not been used for three years to be discarded” in mind.
Unfortunately or fortunately, my husband shares the same sentiment when it comes to stuff and memory. I wish I am more like my mother, viscous in clearing off stuff, including the few running medals I won in school.
Instead, I look longingly at the old file bearing three year old Ivan’s handwritten name and want to keep it (he is now 22), or the many objects reflecting the stages of my life – the photographic slides of presentations I used to deliver working as a plastic resin salesman, the dried up tubes of paints I spent hundreds of dollars to pursue my folk art hobby, the half knotted rug with the balls of wool I said I would not give myself pressure to complete seven years ago.
Then there were the stuff we took out from the storeroom which reminded us of the boys’ growing up years – the tents they used only once when we first moved into this house 16 years ago, pitched in the garden before the heat forced them to retire into the aircon comfort of their room by midnight, kites, fishing reels, hula hoops, and fancy bubble rackets. Would they still remember these times if I throw them out?
I chided my husband for keeping a cupboard full of his grandparents’ memorabilia and here I have, a large plastic storage box of penpal letters from my teenage years I refused to throw out.
I grumble about the dark storeroom at my in laws house, full and cluttered, and here I am, walking slowly the same path down.
A friend I met who has lived overseas most of her adult life tells me how she owns nothing. Just the few possession that fits into a luggage or two so she is always ready to move anywhere globally.
I envy her.
Perhaps I need my mother to do my decluttering.