"This is my teenage queer-feminist bedroom circa 2000 or 2001. I was a packrat among a family of packrats."
On Friday, I submitted these photos to the Teenage Bedroom tumblr site. Forty-seven people liked it or reblogged it! Of course, I feel a little validated, everyone wants their 15 nanoseconds of fame on the web, duuuuuh. And to some degree (I'm just being honest about my feelings), it feels more validating to be validated for a mess I made in high school by people obsessed with teenagers in the 90s (THERE IS A WHOLE WORLD OF THEM OUT THERE! It kinda blows my mind/amazes/fascinates me) than it does to be validated by real adults for my clutter clearing. Or not so much validating as cool. I am situated culturally/subculturally between those two groups. & I really really don't intend this to be an insult to anyone, I'm just really interested in the weird feelings I have about this particular situation!
On being an adult.
It may be cool to make a mess, but I would rather be an adult. I identify as an adult, I'm proud to be an adult and take care of myself and my home in an adult manner. I know a lot of people in my approximate age group do not, whether they are incapable of doing so, or choose not to. Of course, I am sometimes a little envious of that, people who are still out running around and going to late shows on weeknights and stuff like that. But I wouldn't trade it for getting up early and having the feeling that the world is mine. I wouldn't trade eating grease at restaurants for eating fucking amazing home cooked meals, and I wouldn't trade, oh, basically anything for the commitment I've made to DOING THE DISHES AND CLEANING THE KITCHEN every night before bed. Pretty much nothing feels better than waking up to a clean kitchen, and I'm speaking from my heart, man. Seriously.
On being a packrat.
There was no such thing as a clean kitchen when I was a kid. The kitchen sponge always smelled like ass from being left floating in a pot of food overnight, or over more than one night. I despised doing dishes, because it was so disgusting, because the dishes sat for way too long! I remember poking food bits down the drain with a knife because I was too grossed out to pick them out and throw them away.
I grew up in a family of packrats, and as a young person I never learned how to clean and I definitely never learned how to declutter. I remember making Barbie houses and leaving them up for weeks in the livingroom. I remember my mom trying to make me clean my room, when I was in kindergarten, and getting distracted playing with something I found, and her getting soooooooo mad and yelling at me. I remember screaming when I found a spider in a pile of clothes left on the floor. I remember being a little older and going on whirlwind cleaning sprees in the house and getting so mad at everyone in my family for leaving their junk everywhere, and my mom saying that I should just never clean the house if it was going to make me so mean. I remember my mom carting home a large, clear plastic display case from a garbage pile for me to display all my knick-knacks in. I remember my folks bringing musty beanbag chairs back from the dump. I remember my dad constantly yelling at my mom about CLUTTER, especially when they owned a business together, and the front office, which was totally visible from the customer entrance, was a disaster.
I'm more than a little horrified by these photos of my teenage bedroom, even if they have been validated by 47 tumblr users, but they show what a long way I've come! And it's getting better all the time. I don't have any good photos of my current bedroom; I've made a ton of changes towards minimalism since the last time I took photos. Every day I am able to let go a little more. Every day I find myself willing to part with something I always assumed I'd need to keep, for any number of reasons - the same reasons everyone who has packrat tendencies does it: I might need it, it reminds me of something special, I paid good money for it.
In the summer, I'm going with my mom and my sister to visit my grandparents and my mom's family in Illinois. I wasn't able to go for about 5 years, between the time I was 19 and 24, due to work. The last two times I've been back, I've had incredible guilt, to the point of near hysteria, that we spend SO MUCH TIME SHOPPING, and barely any time with my grandparents, who are in their late 80s and early 90s - which is to say, they may not be around forever.
I was talking to Kaden, again, about how thrilled I was that I had ended my recreational consumerism, and I was going to just spend time with my family on my vacation; even if my mom and my sister spend all their time shopping, I will not. Kaden said he was so proud of me for making such a clean & quick break from blind & blatant consumerism; only a few months ago I'd go browse sale racks at Target just because I had nothing better to do. And I was like, you know why I was able to do that?
It's because of the word, and the idea, MINIMALISM. Just the word and the idea, seriously, have set me free. I am also doing a ton of decluttering work, and it's not complete, but being able to put that name on what I feel has been, frankly, liberating. For years now, I've felt an underlying ickyness and guilt going to the mall, or "big box stores," or even just wasting my time looking at pretty stuff at locally owned stores. But I couldn't put my finger on why, and our society obviously promotes that behavior, so I would note that I felt icky but it wouldn't stop me from doing it again.
Now that I have minimalism in my life, I can say no to shopping as recreation or entertainment. And I can say no to collecting and displaying as identity. And I'm so fucking happy about it!