I come from a long line of Cleaners.  And it’s not just because we’re Mexicans and wired to do at least fifteen things at once.  At least I don’t think so? I can remember my mother would vacuum the house at the ungodly hour of 7:30 a.m.  On a Saturday.  During the summer.  While also cooking pork chops, eggs, and tortillas for breakfast.  And running load after load of laundry.  Maybe that’s why I sleep better with white noise. 

Looking back, I can see I started honing my organization skills at the ripe age of ten.  As a scientist for NORAD (in my play-believe game with a neighbor), we had a cold war game where we inevitably took a call from the President and subsequently had to bomb Russia. Before going home for dinner. And, dammit, I HAD to have a place to file away our consent documents.  So I made my own hanging file folder system out of coathangers and pipe cleaners.  Because my parents wouldn’t get me a filing cabinet.  AND MAYBE THAT’S BECAUSE I WAS TEN and they were trying to save us all from extra hours of therapy in my teen years.

I’m better now, thanks for asking.

But as organized as I was, I also kept things.  All kinds of things that I thought might be important one day.  Or that I didn’t take the time to trash then. It’s scary to open up my portable Sterilte time capsule and clean it out every once in a while.  Gives me a chance to reflect on things I thought were important, things that still are, and the wisdom to know the difference, Amen. 

I still have letters from boyfriends in middle school, i bet. Haven’t made it into that bin yet. The one where I keep letters my brother sent when he was deployed in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. Or the post-card one of my Young Life leaders sent me when I came out, telling me I was deliberately walking out of God’s will.

I finally threw away my “whiskers” sweatshirt from elementary school., the one i had hand-sewn patches onto from 1983 softball seasons.

Elementary Sweatshirt

I threw away my SAT scores (why I even kept them I don’t know, because the scores were horrible. Maybe that’s why i hung on – because I still miraculously got into college). I threw away the RFP document that I had peripherally worked on in graduate school to help bring a National Institute of Health grant for a Center of Excellence in Women’s Health to Tulane University Hospital and Clinic. I threw away my calendar. The one FROM MY SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL.

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I hung onto my “Locke Hill Lions Roar!” t-shirt from 5th grade graduation. The one signed by all my classmates that year. Maybe I’ll let it go next year. Not sure. I still have most of my function t-shirts from my Tri Delta sorority days in college. I wanted my mom to make a quilt out of them – because that’s what the other girls were having done around college graduation time. But now that’s like TWELVE YEARS AGO. And now I’m just in sorority purgatory.

As I’ve toned it down over the last few years to just slighly the crazy side of normal, the Beloved has evolved from the other direction. She comes from a long line of hunters and gathers – and it’s not just because she’s from south Louisiana – , sometimes bordering the species known as pack rats.  Gatherers and pilers and collectors.  Or at least that’s how it manifested itself in The Beloved. Which is fine, until the tragic mutation of don’t-like-to-get-rid-of-stuff-ers occurs.  It only took four years to convince her that we didn’t need to hang onto Coca-Cola bottles from yearsbegone. There were other things, but the mind has a way of blocking out travesties.

Now, we meet somewhere in the middle and call it domesticity.

But now we’re soon to be parents. And EVERYTHING changes.

And I can hear the nuclear power plants of my genetic pre-disposition powering up.  All systems go.  I’ve been in nesting mode. Have been for about the last 26 years. Except now I have an excuse to clean and purge. Can I just say I LOVE SELLING STUFF ON CRAIGSLIST? In the past, this has made The Beloved nervous, but I’ve successfully polluted her with clean/purge/make-ready air. And she has taken the to-do list and run with it. And it’s totally hot.

So over the next couple of days, I’ll intermittently post before-and-after pictures of three rooms of the house that have been transformed in preparation for the RJBs: the guest room, the play area (formerly the “office”), and the nursery. Visioning 50% me, 50% Beloved. Work 99% Beloved. Have I mentioned how incredible she’s been?

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