Me, The Bachelorette and The Cave of Many Things

Me, The Bachelorette and The Cave of Many Things


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Bon voyage. Adios. Arrivederci. See ya. Such has been my Monday nights for the past four weeks and will continue to be for the next two or three weeks. You see, I’m purging my office and more than just paper and tchotchkes are finding their way shredded or tossed into one garbage bag after another. I’m also purging my addiction to paper, to saving anything and everything I write in hard copy format, and to saving the past, one that I’ve finally accepted: I will not get back.


It can be tough to let go of things sometimes. Not just people, but inanimate objects. I was just chatting this morning with a friend about how it can be difficult to let go of old greeting cards or notes from people. I would not consider myself a hoarder. And I believe that is the first thing that any hoarder usually says. But as I begin to uncover what was once my office that I used to love working in daily, I’m finding that indeed I do like to save stuff. All kinds of stuff. Stuff that makes sense and stuff that, well, is meant to go straight into the garbage. And finally, after about three years of resting in various other places within that space, it is.


My latest personal discovery has been that if I break down my out-of-control messy cave of many things (otherwise known as my office) into quadrants and work one quadrant at a time, I can satisfy my need for closure and prevent myself from being completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of work that I have remaining. I have also discovered another unexpected practice has been extremely helpful in my mission to declutter and re-invent this room I once adored.


A practical use for ABC’s THE BACHELORETTE.


You see, every Monday I have a date. With Kaitlyn Bristowe.  You know. “The Bachelorette.” Yes, that’s right, while she is hemming and hawing about who earns roses or a date, I’m right there beside her chuckling and spewing often disparaging remarks about the various fellas bidding for her company while I empty banker’s boxes, clear crowded dresser drawers and pitch the past. I’ve modified the infamous drinking game that so many of us have associated with this show and its male counterpart (“The Bachelor”) — you know the one, take a drink every time someone says the word ‘amazing’ — but in this version of the game, I set a cleaning/clearing goal before the next commercial and then during the ads, take a journey out to the garbage can to drop off a few new filled bags or share with the hubs my latest discovery underneath all of that rubble. It’s been enlightening and even lucrative. My best find so far was a wedding anniversary gift from 2012 that was inadvertently wedged into the closet amid Christmas boxes and gift wrap that same year only to be discovered happily this week. Let’s just say that the bounty uncovered will pay for a future road trip we’re taking to Tallahassee. Woohoo!


I guess what I’m taking away from this experience more than anything is that even the most impossible tasks despite our lack of time or energy or interest can be do-able. We just have to manufacture the right strategy for ourselves to make them possible. In my case, it really had more to do with overcoming pain and sadness than disorganization.


After my dog died summer of 2013, I never even wanted to enter this room. He had spent almost all of 2009 through that summer of 2013 right beside me as I worked and played in that room as a full-time freelance writer and editor. This was where I wrote most of my book, and he was there cheering me on the whole way. Okay, maybe cheering is a bit much, but that dog’s unwavering and unconditional love and sweetness lofted my spirits and fearlessness..endlessly. He was who I smiled and laughed with in that big empty house while I worked on chapters and who I cried to when I would have an unexpected wave of fear or loneliness. (It does happen to us solopreneurs sometimes.)


My office was my refuge. But it was his, too. The comfy spot where Dexter would stretch out and spend time with his “Mom” just as it was the same place I earned a living, gazed out the window and admired the family of doves building a nest or chatted away with my very best friend lounging in his pet bed in front of the little TV. When he left us that day in June 2013, it was difficult for me to sit there before the window again and look over and not see him resting in his bed or feeling him tap me with his cold, wet nose to tell me he needed to trek outside for a potty break. I would walk into the room to fetch things but promptly leave, and more and more items began to pile up in various spots throughout the room. Until about a month ago. When I finally decided that I needed to take control of the room again and return it to the sanctuary it once was. Even if it was just me enjoying it now.


When I work on making that space usable each Monday night, I think of him but I try not to dwell on the sadness. I chuckle when something reminds me of him. And if I start to go down the sad trail of mourning, I quickly pick up my head and avert my eyes to watch Kaitlyn and her wacky brood of suitors. It’s all I can do. And the office continues to get a little bit more cleared out and peaceful every week. One piece of paper, one box, one memory at a time.


I know Gertie says that a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose and Kaitlyn certainly dishes out a slew of them, but this rose smells much more fragrant these days and shines far more radiantly than she has in a while. And I’m so happy to be able to say that. ~ Chris


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