My kitchen counter is notorious to all who know me. Despite my well-documented love for the kitchen, and my need to have the proper tools well-placed in my workshop, my kitchen island is a haven of household detritus. It’s the domestic equivalent of the bend in the river where all the flotsam and jetsam gets waylaid.
My youngest once shared her fantasy that someday it would be cleaned off. My eyes became moist, as they will when I find someone who shares my dreams. My little soul mate cherished those grand hopes for her 7th birthday party. That day she came home and, sensing a change in the kitchen, let out a thrilled gasp. But quickly she realized I had actually bulldozed the school papers, broken necklaces and unpotted planted over to a third of the counter and covered it with a decorative cloth like an intricate, lost civilization. I dried her tears and drew her attention to the birthday cake. I can only do so much.
And that’s why I outsource. Enter my sister, who shared an interesting theory from her friend Joy: clutter collects around areas of our lives that are essential to us. My essence is food, and the space on which I prepare it is a latter day Sanford and Son. It was only a matter of time before it attracted raccoons. I loath raccoons, yet I was already surrendered to their arrival.
My father always said it would be advantageous to have a doctor in the family. He also wanted a plumber, and a veterinarian. We didn’t get those, exactly, but the skill set of my three siblings is vast. As luck would have it, my sister is a rising star in the world of clutter coaching. What better proving ground for her than my hog heaven of a kitchen?
It’s true, as she recounts, I had other plans for her visit. But once she had called out the elephant in the room and lit a centering candle, I knew there was hope for my ziggurat of shame. I used to joke that making pie with no counter space was no problem because I just roll the crust up the wall with my rolling pin. No more crust on the wall. I can roll out dough for pie! Or ravioli! Or stromboli! I don’t know what Stromboli is, but that’s not the point. The point is this: once the clutter is tucked away, thrown away, recycled, or otherwise bid farewell too, the possibilities are endless. And it was relatively painless, since her technique is no-nonsense, without being punitive. My situation required a firm hand, but not an indictment of my character. I may attract clutter, but I am redeemable.
I need a smooth, engraved pocket stone to commemorate this event and keep me centered. It will say, “I threw a bunch of shit away.” Those words are like a warm hug.