Wheaton’s Way

A place for everything...

When I recently visited a friend’s house, I was blown away by how minimalistic everything was.

The coffee table didn’t have a compartment for hiding objects from view; the bathrooms had pedestal sinks – no cupboards; and the couches were bright white with no visible stains. How did they do it? Maybe the medicine cabinet was just a façade, and when you opened the front, it went back like a tooth – an anteroom leading to a hidden storage space. Where did they put everything??

I’m not a hoarder (she began, defensively), but I’ll be the first to admit that I have an embarrassment of possessions. Before you think I’m bragging, let me just specify that the term is broad and includes, but is not limited to, a giant Olaf costume, multiple packs of playing cards, and enough jars that I could start my own jammery (I know it’s not a word, but it works).

I went into my closet the other day to look for my Harry Potter Gryffindor gown and tie (not kidding) that I bought at Universal Studios many years ago, and realised I had no idea where I’d put my wand or owl that I’d acquired at the same time. Imagine: A wizard without her wand! What the heck was the spell to locate them, again? Findmystuffius?

When we moved house last year, it was an excellent opportunity to get rid of the flotsam and jetsam clogging every nook and cranny – and that’s how the best intentions began. Of course, as deadlines approached, we just had to pack the rest and get it moved without going through it.

Like any other normal household (ahem), we have a junk room. After filling one closet in my bedroom with towering Christmas decorations and the other with three ginormous carnival backpacks (those huge feathery, rhinestoney things – don’t ask), there was nowhere else for anything to go but the ‘spare’ room.

You know the one I’m talking about – the one you’d planned to turn into an artist studio, or a small home gym, or an office… oh, the things you’d do. Instead, a few hats get put on the daybed, temporarily… for a year. Then the empty box from the new television goes up against the wall, just in case you need to return it. Oh yes, and you’ll stick all that Mexican pottery you bought on your last cruise atop the side table in the corner until you can find a place in the house where it can really shine. Before you know it, you’re buying shelves and spending more on storage solutions than the value of the items being stored.

Lynne, my best friend and housemate, is very big on those industrial-looking metal shelves on wheels, because she’s nothing, if not practical. We have at least six in the house. And then the tubs; my God, the tubs. As far as I’m concerned, if it has a lid, it’s fine. I learned the hard way that I am not as discerning as apparently I need to be.

I came home one day with 10 large tubs that I’d found on sale as my contribution to Lynne’s never-ending organisation process. As I proudly set them down in front of her, she looked at them, sucked her teeth, looked at me, gave a big sigh, and said, “You got the ones with four clips on the lid. I really don’t like those. I prefer the ones with six clips – four at the sides and one on either end.”

I blinked. Who were we trying to keep out of these things? Killer moths with opposable thumbs? What difference could two clips possibly make?

Don’t get me started on the couple of storage containers I bought many years ago that weren’t even transparent with not a clip to be seen. I’m surprised we’re still sharing a house.

What I’ve discovered is that storing the large, nicely-shaped items is not the problem – it’s the small hexadecohedrons (kids, that isn’t a word either) that are the nightmare. I also love going through a box of random cables and finding the electrical cord that has a plug at one end and the other end looks like it might belong to a Latvian washing machine. It is nearly impossible to throw any of those things away, because you know the minute the garbage truck disappears up your drive, you’ll find the external hard drive you bought in Latvia with all your important documents on it, and the only way to power it up is on its way to the dump.

I’d like to find a happy medium between my friend’s place and mine. I don’t think my brain could handle all their clear surfaces, just begging for a pile of books, a box of tissues, random stapler and a couple of objets d’art. On the other hand, I could do without tripping over an old suitcase and a pair of dumbbells whenever I reach for my box of printer paper at the back of the ‘office’.

You’d think my only solution would be to make some hard decisions and throw some things out, but no. That’s why God invented mini-warehouses.

‘Sesame Street’ has been brought to you today by the words ‘jammery’ and ‘hexadecohedrons’.

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