I am in the midst of spring cleaning. It is a diversion. I would much rather be working on the garden but there is still some snow and where no snow, there is mud. And even if the mud dried enough to be tillable soil it is too cold to be kneeling in it.
So, I’ve decided to clean. I started on the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs because I usually start downstairs. Yesterday, I worked on the third bedroom, nominally designated Cheshire’s room, but she has never lived there. Her bedroom furniture lives there and some clothes. David took over that room when we moved in because there was not enough closet space in our room. Later he moved a desk for writing. Then a bookcase. When his medical paraphernalia out grew the bathroom medicine cabinet — by that time, I had long abandoned the medicine cabinet leaving only my tooth brush and paste behind — and the top of his dresser, the desk became mission control for pills and charts and monitoring equipment.
I had forgotten how much this was David’s room with Cheshire’s bed in it. All of David’s stuff has been long gone and the room stripped of everything but what belongs to Cheshire. I change the bedding when Cheshire or a guest comes and I lay out my clothes before travel on the bed, but the room could all but disappear and we would not miss it. There are lined and insulated shades on the windows to keep temperature stable when it is very cold or very hot. Yesterday, I spent more time in that room than I have ever spent.
As I moved furniture around to clean, I rearranged. It is a small room, so bed, dresser and vanity have a finite arrangement. When I put everything back against walls, it was probably the arrangement that I used when we first moved into the house. Something — dare I say Chi or spirit or something not of this world, perhaps something inside of me — was stirred up. It was as if there was something stored in this room, something that I could not let go of or something that was not ready to be released. I don’t usually have any emotional attachment to the act of cleaning. I only do it because something is dirty. I like a clean space but if someone else was to do it, I would feel no loss of process. As I cleaned yesterday, I gathered emotion. I was overcome with sadness. I felt an emptiness, a heaviness. I felt an anxiousness. If I could have, I would have opened windows although I don’t think that an open window would have dispelled the gloom. I did not remove myself from the sadness but it was dammed hard to be present to it.
Then, last night, I decided that the room needed to look like a guest room. It needed to be inviting, something that would not be so bad to do for Cheshire’s visits either. I wanted new bedding, the rearrangement of pictures and some retrieved from storage. It needed a rug, new shades and the vanity stool recovered. The room seemed to beg for a happy, bright green, something with stripes, flowers. Something of Mexico and the Caribbean. I began looking at rugs online and found a red rug for my living room. (My living room rug is old and worn, but I had not gotten to thinking about replacing it.) And I found some happy green rugs that would look good in the bedroom.
And then I had to stop myself and take a few very deep breaths. What was I doing? I was looking to bring color and movement and the visual joy into the house again. I don’t mean that I’ve lived with blinds drawn and grey drapes over furniture but everything, almost everything, had had a muted, soft, comforting feel. I have made it that way, left it that way until there was reason for change. There has been very little passionate Chi zipping around this house.
And now I am feeling that it should not be so. Let the shopping begin! Integration, change, healing. It happens when I least expect it. It happened cleaning. It recognized it by wanting to decorate, to shop — activities that I don’t associate with myself. It crept up on me when I I was not looking for it, when I was humming along with some tunes and windexing the mirror. All these happy, busy feelings which nicely coincide with the coming of spring — if and when that comes — may disappear tomorrow. May at the very least fade tomorrow. Still, I am grateful for yesterday and today. For the miracle effectuated by a spring cleaning.