I find notes she’s left. Little tid bits. A train ticket from Melbourne 2011, half a postcard, a small pile of stamps shorn from past post, a stack of old magazines with pictures cut out, a bag of lace doilies- moth eaten but with some usable fragments, wrapping paper from last Christmas and don’t get me started on the drifts of old receipts – avalanche warning!
Every time I come across one or more of these hindrances to my stream lined self, these annoyances, this… this clutter – I curse her. I curse myself of yester-year and yesterday. I swear it will be no more. There will be bin bags in the skip, there will be Japanese books on streamlined living read (online so as not to add to the groaning bookshelves). There will be order in my life and not this debris underfoot. Past recollections be dammed.
And for half an hour I sort and throw out.
But she’s crafty. She gleans things back. I see her out of the corner of my eye as she tucks the old train ticket between the pages of a book. She is touching that top that used to fit and I think she’s going to add it to the throw out pile, but then I find it hanging back in the wardrobe. She’s artful that clutter queen, she stacks things under the bed while I get the dinner on.
‘Look, look,’ she says. ‘We’ve made progress, real progress. Life will be orderly!’
And I believe her until I stub my toe on the box containing almost nothing but thimbles.