There are times in life to think through potential transitions and Paul and I did some of that recently.
Brenda, Kevin and the girls will be moving out this summer as both girls will be in high school in another town, so we thought for a while about selling our beloved home of 25 years and moving ourselves.
Our daughter-in-law Sue, who with Pete and their four children, recently went through the major life disruption of a move herself and is therefore a bit of an expert on selling a house; told us that clutter; i.e. anything that makes a home a home; has to go. Oh, yes, and family photos too; anything that is personal, the theory being that potential buyers should be able to imagine their family in your home without being distracted by evidence of the family who still lives there.
We thought and prayed a lot, and weighed the pros and cons. In the end we decided to stay here, and once we made that decision our hearts heaved a sigh of relief and we felt at peace.
We decided to spruce up the home we love and keep decluttering though, which means I'm living in a mess at the moment as "sprucing up" means it gets worse before it gets better. And I must have an awful lot of clutter because no matter how much I give away I keep finding more.
But what I want to confess is a dastardly deed that I am guilt ridden about. It's my fridge. I've---taken---all---the---photos---off it.
It just about killed me to do it. That fridge held a massive collection of photos lovingly held in place by magnets, somewhat like a crazy quilt of smiling faces. Visitors often stood in front of our fridge and gazed at the collection of photos as though they were contemplating a great painting in an art gallery. There was an engagement photo of Paul and me; photos of Mum and her brothers and sisters; several wedding photos; baby photos of friends' children and grandchildren; photos that people sent with their Christmas letters; grandchildren's school photos--you get the picture(s) (ha ha!)
I suddenly decided in a decluttering frenzy one night this week that I was taking them down, because anyway, many of the photos were curling at the edges and some were so old that when teenage friends came to visit they would exclaim at their old school photos on my fridge ("Look at those glasses I used to wear!") But secretly, I think they liked finding them there.
I imagined a clean, decluttered fridge and went for it. But I was unprepared for the guilt. Every photo I took down felt like tearing out part of my heart. I felt like the biggest traitor. I felt so mean.
Even Paul, the fan of clean and uncluttered living, said, when he saw the expanse of bare whiteness, "You could have left a few of them up there you know; just not all of them!"
Now I am waiting with apprehension, for regular guests at our house to see that their photos aren't adorning our fridge anymore. Will they be hurt? Insulted? Will they despise me for heartlessly prioritizing tidyness over sentiment?
I'm gradually getting used to the blank fridge but I miss the photos and momentarily expect to see the familiar faces when I look in its direction.
Guilt Ridden in Bond Head--that's me.