Cringe and Purge: A True Story

It’s a rite of passage, I suppose.  And thank God it’s over with.  I hate those rites of passage that involve hardship, manual labor, and quite frankly, doing something that I really don’t want to do.  If you’ve been through it, too, you might relate to my feelings of dread and perhaps a touch of anxiety as you’ve anticipated the ritual’s beginning, and you might further relate to my desire to avoid it entirely, as well as its potential to develop irritating (although nonthreatening) marital friction.

But it’s so much better in the end, they say.  You’ll feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders!

What am I talking about, you ask?

Standing in front of my garage after a move and knowing I have to clean it, obviously.

Like most military families, we performed some “PCS cleaning” before our move, ridding our home of unneeded stuff. Nevertheless, as we assembled the jigsaw puzzle of our belongings in our new home and tossed the irregular pieces into the garage for future consideration, a mountain of junk arose.  The stuff fit in our last house, so surely we’d find space for it in this house, right?  Wrong.  And so we hunkered down for the Great Cringe and Purge.

Ah, yes, the Great Cringe and Purge, the rather loathsome ritual of digging through cardboard, outgrown clothes, and unused toys.  Odd kitchen supplies and unnecessary knick-knacks.  Glass vases from “I’m sorry I’m gone” bouquet deliveries and the George Foreman from bachelor days.  We wonder why on Earth we kept it all, question the origins of some possessions, accept that we must part with all of it, and haul it to the driveway for a garage sale.  What isn’t bought is taken immediately to Goodwill.

As of this evening, the Great Cringe and Purge was mercifully behind us.  And at the end of the day, Mike worked his magic and set up a beautifully organized and clean garage, complete with a work space, gym area, and parking spot for me.  The orderliness of it seems to balance our universe.  Our home now feels more like a home and less like an episode of an extreme decluttering show on HGTV.

And here is where the Great Cringe and Purge actually becomes quite a blessing.  Standing in front of my masterfully organized garage and my new home filled with possibility and opportunity, I am thankful that these exhausting moves afford us the chance to get rid of the things that weigh us down.  With each move comes the excitement of newness, the potential for improved habits, the weaving together of a new community.  But I’ll tell you what – it’s awfully hard to embrace all that when so much stuff is in the way.

So thank you PCS, thank you military.  Thank you for building into this life a cleansing process, a veritable “home detox.”  You know what lies ahead of us, and you know the easiest way to do it is when our home is just that: home.  A living, breathing space to play, share, love, and be.  We feel better and lighter indeed.

Now, the next chapter can truly begin.



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