By Sarah Ward
This time of year, when so many Alaskans are looking to leave the dark and cold days behind for a hint of sunshine, I am reminded of a consistent vacation struggle- the suitcase rubble. I’m referring to that smattering of belongings that remains in your suitcase after you’ve returned from a trip, and that will still be waiting for you when you begin packing for your next one. When I open my suitcase, I’m reminded of where I went last, and also that I need to put in more effort at cleaning up this left-over clutter. While suitcase rubble has a certain charm to it, providing me with fond memories of holidays past – my suitcase rubble has a way of cropping up outside of suitcases, and indeed, all over the house.
Lately, I have been on a cleaning binge around my home.
My weekends spent opening every box and sorting through every pile, have given me a certain perspective of the belongings that never fully get unpacked. They often end up being semi-forgotten, even though I’m always excited to see them when they are rediscovered.
In less than three years, I moved from my parent’s house to my own studio apartment, and then into a two-bedroom with my boyfriend. Throughout these moves, where everything I owned got thoroughly packed up and relocated, I managed to maintain a level of self-prescribed ignorance towards a solid heap of my belongings. These belongings – a mix of sentimental items, seasonal items, and some items that simply don’t serve any purpose but haven’t been thrown away – managed to move along with me. They weren’t fully unpacked and seemed to take up a substantial amount of space and energy when I moved them. Like the unpacked rubble left in my suitcase after a trip, my home became a metaphorical suitcase after my moves- with this mix of unnecessary items filling in any place it could settle, presumably, until my next transition.
In this current bout of cleaning, I have begun to sort through this rubble, and I have realized that a majority of the items that I held onto for so long hold no purpose, and therefore have no right to take up so much space. I have been downsizing, and I already see a difference. Without this clutter, I find myself appreciating the items that I choose to hold onto so much more. I am wearing jewelry that had been buried under old bike locks and empty perfume bottles, and I am decorating the apartment with small knick-knacks that had remained packed away in newspaper. I am beginning to see a well-organized home through the haze of boxes that never got emptied.
Sorting through the rubble is allowing me to enjoy these memories anew, without having to dig through a box or suitcase to remember the joy that they originally brought me.