Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Archeological Dig in my Living Room

Last week, my husband told me that he was ready to have the wood floor installed that I've been waiting for in my office/living room. He's kind of in charge of this since we own a flooring store and has to schedule the installers, etc. So I've spent the last week cleaning this room out and it's been like an archeological dig.

Up until 33 days ago, I was a compulsive spender (who's counting?) so, of course, the wreckage of my shopping past was in there. I found so many beautiful, new picture frames in there that I'm ashamed of myself. What could a person be thinking when she buys so many? They're on sale so I'll buy 20? There are art prints of every size, both ones I love and ones that are just masterpieces because one time I was going to teach Art Masterpiece and bought everything ahead of time but then the school decided not to go with it. This is what you're like when you're a compulsive spender. There are gorgeous, wood carved wall hangings. There are two clock collections from the 1940s and 1950s, one of starburst clocks, and the other of hanging rope clocks. Was I trying to buy time? There is more furniture than can reasonably be squeezed into a room: my piano, my desk, two couches, a coffee table, two end tables. There are wall-to-wall ceiling-height built-in bookshelves and two free-standing ones, all of which have books piled on them.

Now the room's empty. Of course the rest of the house looks like a bomb hit it. And tomorrow the guys will show up and start working: pull up the carpeting, repair the drywall, paint the room, and put down the wood. But this week sometime, I'm going to have to answer the question of what, exactly, I'm supposed to put back in there when they're done? This is actually supposed to be a house, not a warehouse. I am committed to really making each room usable. Outside it may be HOA-hell with annoying gates and identical houses, but inside it's mine.

My mother, who, besides being a Holocaust survivor, was also once a Skokie housewife, weighs in with her opinion. She says, "Move your stuff out of there! Leave only the couches! It's a living room - don't let the kids in there!" She'd probably like me to get the couches wrapped in plastic and rope it off.

But I know that in there, somewhere, is my book - all my books, the ones I've written and the ones I haven't. The one about growing up one of seven sisters with Holocaust survivor parents; the one about being fat for 25 years; the one about how hard it is to leave a marriage, even when you know it's the wrong guy; and the one about being a teenager in the only Jewish family in Scottsdale in the 1970s on food stamps. Those books are in that room so I guess I'll keep that in mind when I'm rearranging. I need to make them easy to find.

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