A year and a half ago, I Marie Kondo’d my things. I donated almost half of my possessions, reorganized what was left and redecorated my bedroom. After doing it, I felt lighter and happier.
But, as soon as I left my room, I felt cramped.
Our house is full of old things. Little ski boots from over a decade ago lean against the basement wall next to rusty tools and extra paper towels. Dusty glass vases that once held “Get well!” flowers for my Mom hid in random spots all over the house. Worn-down wooden spoons still lay in our utensil drawer. How nice it would be to get rid of these things and start fresh! I thought.
My brother and Dad agreed. So a few weekends ago, I printed a Marie Kondo Tidying Checklist and set my sights on organizing one of the most disorganized parts of our house: the kitchen.
That Saturday, I spent four hours hauling every food-related object I could find into the living room. I scoured the drawers for old utensils and the pantry for every ingredient. I even took out every-day items like the microwave, mixer, and toaster—I took no prisoners!
When I looked at all of the items, I felt so many things. Disgust, for having accumulated so much over time. Gratitude and acknowledgment for the delicious food we’d been able to enjoy (After all, you can’t get good rice without a Zojirushi rice cooker!). Most of all, I felt a strong itch to get rid of old items and never let such unorganized mess ever invade our kitchen again. We needed a change.
That was it. My family and I were going to spend the weekend reviewing every single item. We would produce several boxes of “Toss” items no matter what.
Later that day, we began.
My Dad picked up a cracked bowl with painted fish on its side. The rest of the set had broken. He said, “We can’t get rid of this! I love this!” He put it in the “Keep” pile. My brother picked up an old serving platter and also put it in the “Keep” pile.
Uh Oh. I thought. At this rate, we’ll keep everything!
My Dad picked up more things—a pile of retro butter knives with funky handles and a clouded shot glass—and put them in the “Keep” pile too.
These things are useless! How can they possibly “spark joy”?
My brother and my Dad studied a pile of old rice bowls and also moved them to the “Keep” pile. Were we heading back to our original, cluttered kitchen?
“Guys, you’re keeping practically everything!”
“No, Kristen, the problem is that you didn’t include us in the process!” My brother said. “Did you even ask before you took all of these things out?”
“I told you I was going to do this!”
He pointed to a China set that I had arranged on one end of the dining room table, “Did you know that Grandma gave us that China set?” And then he looked at the rice bowls, “Did you even consider how I might feel if we threw away all of these bowls that I made?”
He had a point, but I was too worried about returning to what used to be to care. “This is about moving forward, not sentimentality! I’m sick of being surrounded by old things. Aren’t you?”
I left for my room. How are they not suffocated by all of this old stuff?
Just then, my Dad and brother came in.
My brother said, “Kris, I guess I felt a little left out when you took everything without me. I think that this project is a great idea and I’m really glad you’re doing it, but you have to understand where I’m coming from.”
I sat in my bed and ignored him.
“You can’t give up,” my Dad said. “So you’ve hit a bump in the road, but you can’t just walk away! If you really want to do this, fight for it! We’re not leaving until you come back down.”
I rolled my eyes. “Fine. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”
As I looked around my room, I remembered something from a book I had once read, “My husband leaves his coat on the ground every time he comes home. If I had to choose between having my husband and finding a coat on the ground versus not having my husband and not finding his coat on the ground, I’d choose my husband and his coat. I’d rather be with him than without him.”
If I had to choose between living with my family and having a few extra items in the kitchen or living alone with a perfectly organized kitchen, well…I’d choose my family too.
When I came back downstairs, the “Toss” pile was a lot bigger than before. Maybe my brother and Dad had had the same realization that I’d had (Or, maybe they finally understood the KonMarie Process). Whatever the case, we had ten boxes of old kitchen supplies to donate at the end of the day. I could breathe a little easier, but I knew we weren’t done. We still had to put everything back.
The next day, I discovered a mug in the basement. I’d overlooked it when I was gathering supplies the day before. I brought it out to show my Dad and brother, “Do you guys want to keep this?” I asked. “I could go either way.”
My Dad said, “Toss it. I don’t want to anger Kristen Kondo!”
I rolled my eyes, but I couldn’t help laughing.