Funny, it doesn’t actually LOOK like all that much, to me, once I view it in a little picture. It doesn’t LOOK like hours and hours of hauling and dragging and sorting and boxes that fell apart halfway up the stairs.
And as much fun as we had TODAY, we get to do (just about) all of it AGAIN when the dumpster gets here! Yay!
So the main thing, today, is that my ex came over without complaint and easily did twice as much work as I did, getting the basement cleaned out. For one thing, he’s bigger and stronger. For another thing, I’m a whiner and a slacker. “I’m tiiiiired,” I would say, just because, you know, stinky waterlogged boxes are heavy and it was 85 degrees outside.
The basement has always been cluttered. When we moved into this house 6 years ago, we brought boxes that had never been opened when we moved into the last house. And we always seemed to be adding to the piles of boxes and castoffs down there. Based on what I saw today, there should be at least four computer monitors in this house. It’s puzzling.
About a year ago–after my ex had been gone for a couple of years–I demanded that he come retrieve whatever still belonged to him in the basement. Over the course of a few weeks, we went through innumerable boxes and sent a fair amount of stuff over to HIS basement. This rendered about half of my basement downright tidy, and I was determined to clean up the other half once and for all.
I never did it, of course. Nor did either of us realize that there was still a fair amount of his belongings in the remaining boxes.
Today, I wanted to throw away ANYTHING that had been sitting in the swamp water. I didn’t much care what was IN the boxes. I just wanted it all to disappear, as quickly as possible. My ex insisted we go through everything. This allowed for maximum distress over every destroyed item.
My parents paid some insane amount of money to have my college degree mounted on a piece of fancy wood and lacquered to perfection. Obviously I wasn’t paying much attention to it, if it was down in the basement in a box, but it still seemed sort of sad to pull it out and note the fine patina of mold it’s now sporting. (A peek into my bizarre logic: Oh, crap. Well, I don’t even KNOW where my grad school degree is. At least I found this one!)
My ex’s Boy Scout merit badges didn’t fare very well, either. I tried to be appropriately sympathetic, even though I enjoyed Brownies for years and promptly quit Girl Scouts after about three weeks when the troop leader’s daughter told me I was ugly.
The tiny tiger costume that was both kids’ first Halloween costume elicited an “Oh NO!” from both of us. Up until then I had been hurling soggy, outgrown clothing into garbage bags; the thought of laundering all of those mildewed items was more than I could bear. But we saved the tiger outfit. I’ll wash it. I don’t know what we’ll do with it, afterwards, but it seemed like we should save it.
“Bad omen, dude,” I chuckled as showed him the collage frame I’d taken off the wall when we divorced. It held pictures from around our wedding: One of our invitations, scenes from the rehearsal dinner, a group shot from my bridal shower, a few family scenes, and–my favorite–a picture that summed up our disastrous honeymoon. (You probably can’t read their motto in that photo… it says, “If our food, drinks, and service aren’t up to your standard, please lower your standards.”) My ex scanned the frame, turning it this way and that, trying to determine if any of the pictures were salvageable. I convinced him the entire thing was trash.
A couple of boxes later, he came across our leftover wedding invitations and matching informals. (I’ve never understood why they’re called informals. If I’m sending you a cream-colored card with my name on it, with an envelope and stamp? Dude, that’s FORMAL. Informal is when I email you.) “Do you want to keep one?” he asked.
I snorted. “Um. No.” And in the back of my mind, I remembered that he is more sentimental than I, and between the wedding pictures frame and this, I was teetering close to the line where I look like a heartless bitch. Not that I’m NOT, you understand, but the man was giving up his Saturday in the sweltering heat to get covered in swamp waste and mildew. I should probably make an effort not to be a complete wench.
“Fine,” he responded. And then, with an almost imperceptible twitch at the corners of his mouth: “Hmph. See if I ever ask YOU to marry me again!”
I forget, sometimes, that he used to be funny. That he can still be funny. That we’re back to a comfortable place, sometimes, where jokes like that don’t cause his face to harden–where he’s the one MAKING those jokes.
So despite the many lovely surprises we unearthed (mmmmm, delicious moldy endtable behind splintering dresser!), I’d have to say that not all of today’s discoveries were unpleasant.