Saturday, July 23, 2011

I hate my attic a little less

When I bought my house, I was single and had 2 cats.  I had recently broken up with the last of a string of Michaels (4 in a row, if you count the weird Brit who surprised me by sucking my toes on our 2nd date when my roommate left the room).  I was glad to be on my own.

Eight years later I still have the same 2 cats.  I'm also married (and NOT to a man named Michael), and have a dog and 9 chickens.  Gene and I are expecting a baby to join our merry little household in December.

On our first Valentine's Day together, Gene and I were watching "The Blues Brothers", which I'd never seen.  His cell phone rang and he left the room.  He was gone for over a half an hour.  When he returned, he was sobbing: his mother had suffered what would be a fatal heart attack.  As the only child of a single parent, he was responsible for decisions about her health care.  He flew from Seattle to Sacramento the next morning and ultimately made the difficult choice - alone - to remove her from life support.

It was a pivotal time in our relationship and clarified what we meant to one another.
He returned to Seattle after the funeral, then drove with his best friend back to Sacramento to pack his mother's apartment and bring back her possessions.

Those boxes sat in the garage of his rental house then migrated to my attic when we decided to cohabitate some time later.

Gene didn't have the heart to go through the boxes.  His mom, whom I never met, collected a variety of things.  Blue glass and anything with butterflies were her favorites.  Sorting through her prized possessions, even years later, was too difficult.  Over the years I've gone through some of her things and taken much of it to the Goodwill.  The only things Gene wanted preserved were his military gear, photos, and a couple of heirlooms.

Before Gene moved in, the only things I had in the attic were my wrapping paper supplies, Christmas decorations, luggage, and my spare dining room chairs.

In the years since Gene and I have lived in the same home, the attic has become a dumping ground.  First, there was all of his mom's stuff.  Then Gene's computer paraphernalia moved in and somehow started having babies.  One cable begat a dozen more; a replacement video card left behind detritus of foil pouches, cardboard boxes, tiny screws, CDs, bubble wrap. and mystery cords.  None of these items ever was discarded.  Hidden amongst all this were military gear, every paper and exam he ever produced in college, books, geeky gamer rules, and about half of our household screwdrivers (WTF?).  All of these items were carelessly strewn about on the floor.

My once neat attic looked like something from Hoarders, only without the dead animals, rat nests, or nagging adult children:

(I am really, really embarassed to show it to you, and can only do so because it no longer looks like this.)

The mere thought of the attic threw me into a sour, pissy, resentful mood.  In order to set up the nursery, the attic had to be cleaned so that the things from the spare bedroom/office could be sorted and moved to new locations.  Gene's out of town and I got rid of nearly everything.  I did save a teddy bear from Gene's mom's things for the baby.

After a day of toiling away - thank goodness temps were only in the 70s today - my attic now is respectable.  I wouldn't mind of you walked into it at this very moment.


About 99% done:

Those boxes in the middle of the floor are all empty and waiting to be recycled.  I'll let Gene take care of that - I climbed the stairs to the attic at least a dozen times, which was utterly exhausting at 19 weeks pregnant.  Better now than at 29 weeks, I suppose.

My gift-wrapping things are now fully accessible.  The rolls are on an old wine rack I wasn't using.
(Don't you loooove the crappy paneling?)

Luggage, miltary gear, and various computer parts are now grouped, visible, and accessible.  I've gotta find a bin for the motorcycle gear.

Extra seating for our dining room table is - say it with me now - "accessible".  In the nooks behind them are all the photos, as well as most of the Christmas stuff.

I have no idea what's in the trunks.

Here's the view looking back toward the stairs.  And yes, this ceiling is quite low.  I'm 5'8" and my head hits the flat part of the ceiling.  It's not exactly the "third bedroom" the listing agent had promised.

And finally, all my preserving things are stored up here as well: canning jars, kettles, pressure canner, pickling crock, dehydrator, etc.  It's not as bad as it looks in the photo.  I should be able to sort, arrange, and organize all of this, plus what's piled in the corner you can't see, in less than an hour.

Here's what my kitchen looked like after I'd finished the attic:

My car was so full with donations that I couldn't see out the side or rear windows!  I didn't even try to take the recycling or trash: there was simply no more space.

Thank god it's all done.  I'm exhausted... but no longer pissy or resentful.

1 comment:

  1. Good job - that looks impressive! And what a moving story. So sad but also powerful how your love persevered.

    This Good Life