This week we’re having the house painted. The walls in my room were pretty beat up and I blame its closet-like nature for that. There were black marks along the inside wall from my chair rubbing up against it every morning, I’ll have to be more careful about that now. There were rust colored marks above my dresser from when Max, the rat, lived there and would sneeze, scratch, and do other rattly things that affected the wall. Apparently household cleaner doesn’t work magic. Magic. I didn’t think to try Mr. Clean Magic Erasers! Those things do work, actually. I did notice once that they remove a bit of paint if you try to hard, though. I digress.
My walls are now a beautifully bright yet muted green. Celery sprig. I have diet walls. But why am I talking about my freshly painted walls other than they have been white for the past nine years, I hate the smell of paint, and trying to keep two dachshunds away from a painter is a full-time job? Because you have to empty your room to paint it and I have far more crap than I realized.
You see it’s hard to believe so much stuff can fit in a closet-sized bedroom. Over the past years I became the master of shoving things into small places and forgetting about them. It took me several days to go through all of my things, but I ended up with a large garbage bag of trash, a garbage bag of donations, and a snotty, sobby face.
My headboard has two compartments for storage, one of the attractive features of the bed that caused my parents and I to fall in love with it. Places to put crap! I rarely go into those compartments because they are full. As I was emptying them to make it easier for the painter to move my bed, I found yearbooks, photo albums, notebooks, loose pictures, and stuffed animals. I’ve always been a bit of a stuff animal hoarder but these were all from my hospital days. Each bear (there may have been a koala and cow or two as well) was from somebody wishing me well and a quick recovery. I knew I had kept these particular animals for sentimental purposes and had gotten rid of so many others, but for the life of me I could no longer remember who gave me half of them.
I pulled a brown, wiry bear wrapped in a robe and slippers and waved him in front of my mom:
“Do you remember who gave this one to me?”
“Wasn’t it Jess? I’m pretty sure it was Jess.”
“No, she gave me a Build-A-Bear with a Friends Furever t-shirt on an Sketchers. Everyone was crazy over the fact that my bear had Sketchers.”
“Are you sure? I’m pretty sure that was from Jess. Maybe she gave you two bears?”
“I don’t know why she would have give me two. I doubt it was her, I would have remembered that.”
It went something like that. I ended up asking Jess that night while talking over IM and she is also pretty sure she only gave me one bear although, being nine years ago, it’s hard to say. Bathrobe bear’s origins remain a mystery but even my mom agrees that he is too cute to donate.
I managed to get through the animals quickly and painlessly, even sending several off to Goodwill. I thought that was all I had left as mementos from being in the hospital aside from my two giant sized greeting cards that live in my closet, but then I opened the drawer in my night stand that I never use. I dug deep in there to find a stack of greeting cards and instead of just tossing them all at once (why keep what you didn’t know existed?) I went through them one by one.
And the tears began to flow.
I hadn’t kept every get well card I got, but I kept quite a few. I thought I was done with the bawling after writing my thesis when I would narrowly escape Starbucks and the library dry eyed before making it back to my car for a good cry. There is something about reading other people’s words and re-realizing the scope of people who responded when they heard what had happened. Everything is brought to another level of consciousness. I got rid of a few more, but some of those cards I need to hang on to a little longer.
So now I have green walls. I’m moving on in life.