I feel the urge. The urge to purge.

So, the trip is now over, and it was a wonder-filled nine days of visiting new places and seeing unexpected things (I hope to get to those later), with a few bickering sessions in between (I’ll leave those out). But it was a good time overall (when I wasn’t stressing over how much exactly it was costing us to eat other people’s cooking and sleep in strange beds; and don’t even get me started on the buffet at Ruby’s in Bryce Canyon City!).

But now we’re home and I once again have been hit with the cleaning bug. Every year, no matter where we visit or how long we’re away, I come home and have the urge to clean this entire place out, from top to bottom, high to low, because it never fails to amaze me how well we all get along with just enough personal items as can fit in a carry-on bag. (I’m also amazed at how much neater and nicer most people’s homes are than mine, but that’s another blog best saved for another day.)

During my travels I am reminded that we don’t need all this junk, all these trappings of this so-called life that we hang on to year in and year out. Seriously, no matter how much I like John Denver, do I really need to save the People magazine issue that commemorated his death? Or is the initial issue of O, the Magazine really going to be worth all that much one day for me to save it and possibly put it up on eBay?

And just how long should I hang on to the kids’ kindergarten artwork or their clothes, many of which are not all that special and are beginning to smell sour from having been boxed up in the garage, some for a couple decades?

So, I’ve begun to cleanse my humble home of that paraphernalia that builds up and buries us in the past. One of the most motivating statements I’ve ever heard for cleaning and purging nostalgic items came from a psychologist in a segment on a TV show (was it Oprah?), who said that all those items are cluttering one of our most valuable possessions–our real estate. A practical-minded and thrifty television audience member like myself has to acknowledge the accuracy of that comment. We want our homes to have value. Cluttering them makes them less valuable and gives us less living space.

So, I’ve attacked my kitchen cupboards, saving anything that my soon-to-be-independent daughter can possibly use in her new place and packing up the rest for charity or the town dump. Gone are excess plastic Rubbermaid containers (and their cheaper, disposable clones). Gone are all the mismatched plastic and glass drinkware that was so, so tacky (the mismatched plates, chipped bowls, and melamine items depicting Sesame Street characters, Buzz and Woody and a multitude of others are soon to follow). Gone are the expired, now-bland spices, the random sheets of paper in the office desk, the dried-out markers, hundreds of broken crayons, the containers holding more containers that took up way too much space in already cramped cupboards.

I’ve attacked the kitchen and part of the office. The hall closet (a big job) is to follow, although I did already work some magic on the coats that were handed down and never worn or bought at such a discount that I just couldn’t pass them up.  I can’t wait to do work on the junk in boxes under my bed, including those aforementioned magazines, and the junk on hangers in my closet. I heard that we wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time. If that’s not a true testament to the waste of valuable real estate in our homes, what is? I’m not a clothes horse–my husband and I share a modest-sized closet–but there are things on my side that are way past cool, or that I wore 10 pounds ago, or  that I know in my heart of hearts that I’ll never wear again.

And so it goes. I just hope that this urge to purge doesn’t fade before I get all my closets and cupboards and cabinets cleaned out. I suppose I could just take another trip to bring back the feeling again.

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