The worst part of living in a space, putting down roots, and calling it your own is that you’re constantly struggling to make it liveable. Things breed and divide like cells, creating so much detritus. You shove those broken chairs, old skates and extra slats of plywood to the verandah. Relegate old cushions to the very innards of the linen closet. Stuff packets into packets to make a large ball of packets. Out of sight is out of mind, until one day, there’s no room to stand and have a cup of tea in the verandah without risking a splinter. You can’t open the closet without triggering an avalanche; and you never find the right plastic packet in time.
We grow gardens of sediment around us – we shed millions of skin cells and hair and fibers and slowly drown in our own dust.
It is utterly exhausting, constantly clearing your own waste, and weeding your own possessions. The dishes glare at you from the sink so you hire a maid. The dust coats every beloved book you own, so you hire another one. A Sisyphean task of scratching out enough space to enjoy the space you have. This is not a New Age-y plea against possessions. Oh no, I love my things very much. I just wonder if I can keep them and my sanity simulataneously.
So every time I find myself yearning for a large bungalow in my improbably rich dream future, I remind myself that I’d have to hire an army of servants. I don’t want that – why live in a space so vast that you cannot stride through it with the sure knowledge of having control over every part? What good is a crumbling mansion with no one to enjoy the cobwebbed cornishes? Or a spotless one where you are a guest in your own house?
I plod about my room, cleaning and tidying and sorting, and find that two hours have flown by. Yet another pile of sediment lies untouched. I sigh and leave it for the next weekend. Someday, when I die, I hope to have nothing on my to-do list.