Maybe it is nesting… or maybe it is common sense? I’m not sure. It also could be my massive need to purge all-the-things on a routine basis, but I have been preoccupied with needing to clean and organize and throw all the things away. November and December were filled with travel for work and for friends and for the holidays. They were also filled with guests in town, and that has lead to the piling of baby stuff on the other side of our dining room table (and the shoving of stuff into closets to be thought about later). I continue to be determined to keep this 1-bedroom apartment a sane place to live even though we will soon be adding another human to the mix. Unfortunately, it has become trickier the more gifts we receive from future grandparents, aunts and uncles, and incredibly thoughtful friends. We so appreciate the thoughtfulness, the adorable outfits (penguins! plaids! giraffes! monkey hats!), and the baby-necessary odds and ends. Now I just have to figure out a place to put it all.
But the reason I’m saying this could be nesting and it could also not be nesting is because I am a major less-is-less-stress person. I spent from 18 until …. now packing up all of my stuff and driving it or flying it willy nilly up and down the west coast to and from the midwest, within San Francisco, back and forth between apartments, here and there and everywhere. You know that feeling where you think you’re almost done packing but then you turn around and realize you have an entire dresser full of nick-knacks to sort through? And, oh look at the time, you only have 2 hours to do it, and oh what was that you were thinking? You’re sore and exhausted and hate your life? That feeling is my worst nightmare and I have felt it way too many times. I would rather have no things than have to move truck loads of things I use twice a year.
The problem is… I married Kamel. The keeper of ALL THE THINGS. The collector, the ebay selling king, the sentimental object hoarder. A Good Will, closet clearing, afternoon in our house almost always turns into a meltdown. It is a power struggle over my need to make space and Kamel’s need to keep (probably totally normal person objects) things or to be really thoughtful about what he gets rid of. His thoughtfulness is very difficult for my lack of patience.
When I talk about our marriage in depth like this on the internet, I always run the topic by Kamel first. I always ask if writing about this is ok. And then I have him read it first and give another ok. Even though I am incredibly honest and try my best to paint a balanced picture of what my world and my marriage truly looks like, I don’t use this space to vent uncontrollably about my husband. I say this, because when I asked Kamel if I could write about this he said yes – and then when I had him read the first draft he said no. And that is the first time that has ever happened. Even though this cleaning and organizing and what to keep and what to clear thing may seem small, it is not small for us. It is stressful. So this is the second draft.
I am not sentimental about objects. Maybe to a fault. I have no problem throwing things away or giving them away. It doesn’t cause me a second thought. If there was a show about the anti-hoarder, I would be the star. Kamel complains I am wasteful. He thinks it is weird that I have no problem throwing away food that I think has gone bad, or that I know I won’t eat. I’m not a left-overs person… unless we make more for dinner with the expectation of eating it for lunches. He hates giving something away that we could sell and make money on. I don’t care about this at all, my goal is to clear space so that I don’t feel claustrophobic in my own house, his goal is to never waste an opportunity. I hate having decorations out and about on surfaces. I don’t like having plants in the house. When I met Kamel he had several orchids (that were mostly just sad sticks in pots) and an entire book shelf full of movie memorabilia toys. He isn’t the wrong one (sometimes he is) and I’m not necessarily the right one (sometimes I am)… we are just really really different on this one issue. This is obviously not a divorce-worthy, but it does make me wish I lived alone sometimes. Sometimes it is really inconvenient to have to share so much of your private space.
Adding another human into our apartment, and all of the stuff that goes with him, makes me twitch. When we moved all of the furniture for the baby into our bedroom I was really proud with how well everything fit and how I didn’t feel overrun by it. But as the due date approaches, the reality of the situation is stressful for me. In my perfect world I would take entire bins of stuff that is sitting in our closet and just drive it over to a donation center and toss it in without looking back. That way I could actually put away some of this baby stuff in places with doors that I could close instead of being in piles against the far wall. But the spontaneous tossing of things just isn’t going to happen in this house and we have to come up with a compromises so that when we do clean and re-organize our belongings, we are not resenting each other the whole time. Sharing space, sharing stuff, and sharing major life decisions is my biggest hurdle with marriage. It was such a relief to be a grown up and to be able to make decisions about how and where I lived and spent my time, and now I am married and yet again there is another person who gets a say. There are perks to this, but it’s not always roses.
How do you navigate these issues? How do you navigate small spaces? Are you the keeper or the purge-er? I would love some compromise assistance on this one.