Sorry, I know it has been a while since the last time I wrote to you. So much has gone on and I’m not sure where to start. I swear, sometimes the world becomes this busy place. Days pass and then weeks go by. Next thing I know, months peeled off the calendar and I miss the marks on my “To do,” list. It’s strange how life has a way of picking up and getting away from us.
I remember years ago when the springtime came around, I had to clean my room and get rid of literally everything that needed to be thrown out. This meant old clothes that I didn’t wear anymore. I went through my closets and drawers. I threw out anything that wasn’t needed or relative to my life anymore.
We called this, “spring cleaning,” in our house. And I cleaned everything from my drawers to the hardwood floor in my bedroom. I dusted the shelves and dusted the tops of my dressers, cleaned the television and washed its face with Windex. I used pledge on my wood furniture. I corrected the posters that needed repair on my walls and adjusted my room to have a new look.
At the end of the day, my bed was made with fresh sheets and my comforter was cleaned, new pillow cases, and everything in the room smelled fresh and clean. And while no, I’m not sure if I know of any teenage boy who likes to clean his room, and no, mine was never a clean room nor did I clean my room without being told to —looking back, I think I might have enjoyed this day of spring cleaning.
Maybe I knew this was something that needed to be done. It was springtime and the world was coming back to life. Everything was coming back to green and blossoming —and what better time could there be to this than when the weather outside is fresh enough to open the windows and let the breeze come in?
This wasn’t something I volunteered for at all, but I at the end of the day, I was glad that I cleaned my room—and when I was finished, I lay back on my bed, hands clasped behind my head with elbows pointed towards the ceiling, music playing in the background and the feeling of a fresh start was on my mind.
I suppose I thought about what else I should get rid of. And what I mean by this is more than just old clothes given away to charity or old garbage thrown out. I thought about the people that I should walk away from.
I thought about the changes I wanted to make. And I could start over again with a clean slate too. Maybe I could change my direction or perhaps I could be more of who I truly wanted to be instead of acting out as who I thought I’d have to be.
I’m not sure if I ever thought about what the word pollution really means. More than just garbage, pollution is something harmful or contaminating to our environment. There is noise pollution, which I connect to the useless conversations and arguments I have in my head. And I think about the basic contaminants I have, the people, places, and things, which corrupt my environment —and I wonder what my life would look like if I removed them. Maybe it would feel just like it did, back as a kid, my room was clean, the windows were open, and the outside air was fresh and clean.
I never realized what pollution is. It’s more than just smoke lifting in the air or garbage thrown on the side of the road. Pollution is also the unwanted clutter we have in our bedroom or in the junk drawer that we always promise to clean out, but yet, we never do because the ideas and the tasks to clean it all away somehow grows to be this huge intimidating monster.
This is what happens with personal pollution. This is how we contaminate ourselves; and the air we breathe and the dreams we have are tainted and tarnished —our so-called “To do,” list becomes a document of disappointments, and I fall to the clutter which only exists in my mind. Eventually, we fall to the clutter because the clutter we have in our life becomes a representation of how we think and feel.
And there is a connection here. I make no mistake about this. When I’m at this point, I look around and see all the clutter in my life; I find myself wishing I could somehow go back to when I started with a fresh clean slate. Then I realize this is why daily maintenance is important.
It’s easy to pick up after one or two things. But when the list of things to pick up grows longer, the chore seems more and more intimidating —and next, it feels like I’m buried underneath a pile of work, bills that need to be paid, missed opportunities, mistakes and misspoken worlds, and the ever irretrievable moments that can never be taken back or changed. The idea of spring cleaning is to start over, to clean the slate, to give myself a break, and to get rid of the personal pollution that keeps me from being the person I want to be.
I remember cleaning my room as a kid and finding garbage that was like say, nearly a year old or longer. I bagged up clothes that I didn’t wear anymore because I either outgrew them or my taste in fashion had changed. I threw away my old shoes. I threw out the hidden school notices, which I would retrieve from the mailbox before anyone came home to avoid punishment —which looking back, this was a silly thing because the report card would come at the end of the marking period and it was clear that had nowhere to hide my mistakes.
I threw away notes from girls that broke up with me or wouldn’t go out with me. I remember throwing out the empty cassette cases to tapes that I lost or were stolen or left at someone’s house. The music the cases once contained was no longer retrievable; at least, not the original anyways. Of course, I could always buy a new one, but the fact remained the empty case stood as a representation of something I lost through my own fault or at no fault of my own.
Spring cleaning was the time to throw all these things away. This was a time to let go and move on. This was a time to clean the slate and then all I had to do was have to maintain it, which was easy at first. Slowly, however, pollution has a way of trickling in and contaminating my surroundings.
It goes this way with feelings as well. There is a list of feelings, which I could do without. There is a list of things I would like to get rid of and clean the slate, so to speak.
I want to get rid of all the useless contaminants Mom. I want to get rid of the people, places, and things that pollute my environment. But sometimes, a chore like this becomes intimidating.
Back when I was a kid, you were there to help me clean my room. You were there to direct me and help me get rid of the contaminants in my life. And I wished I would have realized the significance of this back then.
I wish I could have made the connection of cleaning out my drawers and emptying my closets. Everything that needed to go was gone, thrown out in a garbage bag, tied up, and sent away. I never knew this was a simple form of freedom; but meanwhile, all I ever wanted was to feel free.
Another significant part of this cleaning is that I polished the things I had and I cleaned the things I wanted to keep. This accentuated the good things I had and how the good things in my life have never gone away —they just needed to be dusted off and remembered because the pollution I held onto was a distraction that kept me from seeing my own valuables. And you were there for this. You were there to point this out and show me the things I have.
As I write to you, I am considering a list of things which I need to throw away. There are study materials that I want to organize and get back to. I don’t want to grow my “to do” list so much. Instead, I think I will shorten this and give myself a break. I think I’ll go back to the way it was at 277 Merrick Avenue when you had me clean my room —and then when I’m finished, I can lay back with a sense of accomplishment, fold my hands behind my head, embows pointing up at the ceiling, and I can relax and breathe in the freshness of my clean, new air.
Anyways, today is Mother’s Day. I’m still trying to find a way to get a phone call to wherever it is you are now but the technology hasn’t come that length of success yet. I’ve had some incredible victories in the last few months. I’ve had a few set-backs too. I think I’ll be able to see more of my achievements the moment I throw away all the rest of my useless clutter.
I miss you, Mom. No matter what, you were always there and always looking to help point out the good things in me. Maybe that’s why you used to yell at me to clean my room all the time; this way I could get rid of the useless pollution and see the beautiful things I have.
Say hello to Pop for me.