Lost in SpacePosted: July 10, 2012
In the late seventies my great grandmother was the oldest living person in Rochester, Massachusetts. She lived in a trailer outside my grandparents’ house and I remember her cruising back and forth from the house to the trailer even at ninety-six years old.
The trailer had a distinctive air inside. After so many years have gone by I can’t tell you if the smell came from cleaning products or moth balls or something else she used , but when I think of her, I’m immediately back in the flimsy trailer and I smell that same old scent that reminds me of her.
Today I’m wondering how much our space tells us about who we are. My youngest daughter is a good example. She hates change but lives in a house where the furniture, plants, and pictures regularly cycle in and out. The change is a source of stress that she can’t get away from until she grows up and moves out.
My environment screams temporary. My clothes are packed in plastic bins and stacked around my room. My desk, writing chair, and filing cabinets are squeezed into a room that was full before I arrived. If you look closely at the surfaces you’ll see that I’m working on many things at once. I’ve got five different notepads all open and half full of scribbles. Standing there for a few minutes you could tell a lot about my state of mind. I’ve tried many times over the years to organize and declutter, but it seems I default to a state of chaos where I can see lots of tasks at once. I’m comfortable in my clutter, for now.
My brother’s house is a more interesting example. He’s the focus of my new Deadly Junk
series and right now if you look around his place you’ll see Matchbox cars scattered all around the living space as they wait their turn to be listed on eBay. Those cars were a purchase I captured on my blog and in the first Deadly Junk book. If you venture into the spare bedroom or the cellar, you’ll find mountains of stuff he’s bought either at a yard sale or as part of an estate. His love for junk defines him and it’s visible everywhere you look.
You wouldn’t expect to find the massive television, the new furniture and all the cool electronic gadgets in the same house. All this stuff clashes with my brother’s love for junk. If you didn’t know my sister-in-law, you’d be puzzled about where it all came from. It would be hard to believe junk sales could pay for all that gadgetry. After following my brother’s hobby for several months I know he could afford those things with the money he makes selling junk, but that’s not the answer.
My sister-in-law is a contester. If you’re running a giveaway and you’re offering a good prize, there’s a really good chance she’s entered. She’s won two cars, countless televisions and electronics, and more gift cards than she can spend. We like to think she’s really lucky. Maybe she is, but a lot of it comes down to determination and the patience to enter thousands of contests. Her success fills the living room.
As I was sitting at the dining room table talking to my daughter this morning, she told me all about how she would create her first apartment to be just the place she wants to live in. I wonder if we all start out that way and how long it takes for our space to take control and begin to tell the world who we are.