Before my house went up for sale last month, the realtors gave explicit directions for staging the place to look its best.
Most instructions began, "get rid of–"
I took countless loads of stuff to Goodwill and the dump, resisting the urge to forage at either place for more things to bring home. Decluttering is the name of the game, and I'm proud to say I'm pretty good at it.
My two 27-year-old male housemates aren't adapting as well.
During the first walk-through, the realtors pointed out a wheeled office chair that didn't appear to be in use. The seat was slightly torn, and I'd stuffed it in the guest room in case I needed an extra chair for dinner parties.
"Can you get rid of that?" they asked.
"Sure," I agreed. "It's in decent shape, so I'll just wheel it to the sidewalk and stick a free sign on it."
I did exactly that before piling another load of household clutter into the trunk of my car and heading to Goodwill. When I returned an hour later, the chair was gone from the sidewalk.
I was delighted for the thirty seconds it took to drive from the bottom of my driveway to the top. That's when I discovered the chair sitting in the front yard with the free sign gone.
"What the hell?" I asked as I walked through the front door.
My housemates ignored me, probably because they're accustomed to that as my normal greeting.
"Why is the chair in the yard?" I asked.
"It was free," replied one of the housemates. "I thought it would look good in my room."
"It was free because I put it there," I informed him. "And also because I'm trying to get rid of things."
He grinned. "You just did."
I gave up the chair battle and continued filling boxes and bags with castoff clothing, rarely-used appliances, and the overabundance of office supplies I swear have been procreating in my desk drawers. I stuck one of the boxes in the entryway, thinking I might inspire the boys to do some decluttering of their own.
"I'm taking that box to Goodwill later today," I told them Saturday morning. "If there's anything you want to get rid of, go ahead and toss it in there."
They both looked up at me. "That box is going to Goodwill?"
Before I could open my mouth to reply, they were both pawing through the box like a pair of mongrel dogs doing a dumpster dive outside the butcher shop.
"Hey, this is a good mug!" one of them declared.
"This hula girl hasn't even been opened," the other shouted. "I can put it on the dashboard of my car."
The other housemate took it from him. "Let's see if her skirt comes off. That would be better."
They continued digging as I stood speechless in the living room, not daring to interrupt what appeared to be the most fun either of them had enjoyed all week.
"Tape?" one housemate yelled. "Who gets rid of tape?"
"I had twelve unopened boxes of it in my desk," I informed him. "I don't need that much tape."
"Probably stole it from work," he muttered to the other housemate. "Hey, what's this thing that says Pirate Playmates?"
He pulled out a plastic baggie of action figures someone gave me as a gag gift. They both frowned. "That's not what I was hoping for."
I sighed. "Is there anything else I can get you boys?"
"Got any bulbs for this lamp?"
So much for decluttering. On the bright side, the housemates seem pleased with their new acquisitions. In hindsight, I probably should have wrapped up all my castoff stuff and offered it to them as holiday gifts.
How are your decluttering skills? Do you tend to be a pack-rat or a ruthless organizer? Please share!
And let me know if you want to pilfer through the housemates' rooms for any household goods you might need. I promise not to tell.