Dealing with Forced Simplicity

I woke to crashing plaster and pouring water. Ten weeks of apartmentlessness followed. Forced simplicity, or being forced to reckon with all of my stuff, is what I had been wanting, but I did not enjoy this package it arrived in.


During the demolition after the flood:


Admittedly, I was well-positioned to count my blessings, having already wanted to purge and live in less-cluttered surroundings. However, shuttling myself and my kids between each of my parents’ homes for ten weeks was time-consuming, and us not having our own space, our own home, was pretty stressful.

So, count my blessings I did. We gained precious time with my parents and step-parents. We shared meals, conversation, family time and chores with them, and basked in the love, security, and comfort they and their homes offered. They helped me with said meals and child care, which are blessings beyond measure for any parent. Multiple-generation households are both practical AND joy-inducing.

I threw away at least five industrial-sized trash bags full of stuff. This, a year after downsizing from a house to an apartment. I will not forget the loss of most of my graduate-school papers, but the degree is over ten years old, I plan to get another graduate degree at some point, and I’m pretty sure I still have a copy of my thesis somewhere.

I did often feel like my life had been razed by wildfire, but I consciously chose to see the opportunity to cleanse and renew. As we prepared to move back in, I cleaned construction dust off of every single plane and surface, and I took this opportunity to organize and to purge even further. I really do enjoy organizing and home-making, but it was a challenge to offer myself the same empathy and perspective that I would offer a Type A customer. Certainly, having honed my organizational skills with Type A helped me launch into and remain in organizing and cleaning mode.

I saved on two-and-a-half months of rent. Enough said.


After construction and organizing:


Finally, my kids learned resilience, or so I hope. They learned to make their own comfort in different spaces. They learned that there is almost always a solution to any problem. They saw, instead of hearing the repeated mantra from me, that family is the most important thing at the end of the day. They experienced that we need to be grateful for whatever we have.

Many of my reasons may sound cliche, but we all get caught up in the minutiae of life and forget to be grateful for the love we share, the warmth we have and the sustenance we enjoy. Home is wherever our people are, but it’s nice to have one address which houses you and those people.

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