One thing about living in a house, you have space for things. Sometimes, these are nice things to have, like a normal size broom. On the boat, I had a handheld vacuum and a hand broom. In the house, I not only have full-sized versions of both, but also a mop and swiffer and a whole closet dedicated to storing cleaning supplies. This seems like a somewhat decadent use of space, coming from a 30-something foot sailboat.
I spend a fair amount of time as we settle into our home thinking about what we really need. I’m absolutely in favor of things that make life easier – cleaning with a standing vacuum is much easier on one’s back. The shelf is a good place to hold spare cleaners, the iron and roll-up ironing board, and our basket of medical supplies (something that was just as important on the boat, though perhaps more compactly stored).
But I also clearly have an issue with the existence of this closet, namely that indicates all the extra work that goes into maintaining a home. On the boat, it’s a solid 15 minutes from messy to everything put in it’s place. Maybe an hour if I’m wiping down all the surfaces, polishing the windows, and scrubbing the head.
I also have some issues with the volume of stuff we’ve managed to collect. On the boat, it was easy not to buy things because where would they go? When the grandparents wanted to buy elaborate toys, that was cool because they knew the toys had to stay at their houses. But when we bought a home, suddenly the toy volume increased from one small shelf on the boat to overflowing from the kids room and creating a constant battle that I must fight to keep cheap plastic under control.
How do I think about the things I am accumulating now that we have a house? The Marie Kondo method also does not work with a cleaning closet. Does this vacuum spark joy? No, not it does not. It tells me that either I must use it or employ someone to use it. What if I got a shiner vacuum? No, it still must be used. How about one of those robot vacuums…now that might be different, especially if there was a cat to ride on top…and to be fair, a clean house is much better than a dirty one. So it has a utility even if there is no joy involved in it’s existence or process. I guess that’s why I like the saying by William Morris:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
So I sit here, staring into this closet, and looking at all the useful things and wondering how to make them useful and beautiful without really annoying Geoff by getting a cat to go with a robot vacuum.