Spring cleaning, I’m not sure exactly when the practice began but I can be reasonably sure it had to do with getting rid of old things with lingering odors from long winter months spent inside. Once the fortunes of bad weather faded and it was safe to come out of the caves, I’m sure even cave men had to endure their women tossing soiled animal skins and spent bones from the cave.
My own mother embraced the yearly ritual by bringing rugs outside to air out, pressing each of my sisters and brother (me included) into washing the walls of tell-tail finger prints that built up during the long snowy winter months and shampooing the carpets. Mom usually wasted two of our precious spring weekends on this effort.
I married the first time in my early twenties, we had a June wedding. Little prepared me for the enthusiasm with which the little woman embraced spring cleaning some nine months later. It must be part of female DNA, usually two weekends each spring were offered up to the gods of cleaning. At church you could tell that spring cleaning season had arrived from the increase in donations of soiled animal skins and spent bones from our homes. The husbands were tasked with bringing the spoils in, most pretended to be happy but once the wives were off having coffee we all shared manly groans that spoke more than words.
This year yielded an unexpected result from spring cleaning. True, my home was properly vacuumed and dusted, closets and garage all organized for another year, but during the process I cleaned out hidden emotional baggage that had built up from the past 10 years.
Curiously, the elimination of ill fitting clothing unearthed the burdens. As I went through my closets with the purpose of only straightening them I saw a few sweaters that never really fit right. Then and there I decided to toss those soiled animal skins.
If such things as light bulbs appear over our heads as we ‘wake up’ to new information, surely mine would have illuminated a stadium. It went something like this…
“I bought that when I returned from working in California. That wasn’t a very good time. Soiled animal skins! Out of the cave they go!”
“I bought that while struggling with <insert name here>, I never wore that much either. Soiled animal skins! Out of the cave they go!”
“Ouch, what was I thinking when I bought that. More soiled animal skins! Out of the cave they go!”
Soon I’d built a pile of clothing, all purchased to coincide with bad personal experiences. It took two trips to the garbage can outside to eliminate the pile, but with each trip a lighter, freer feeling rushed over me. This year I stumbled onto a most unexpected lesson, that spring cleaning is more than merely dusting and vacuuming, it’s a chance to discard the trappings of failed situations.
What’s in your closet, soiled animal skins and spent bones?
Thanks for reading this far.