| Musings |

The Thing About Things

This house, with its dearth of closets, was going to be mighty intolerant of Things


hen I first laid eyes on the apartment that would become my home, as a young kallah, it was love at first sight.

True, the kitchen was miniscule, and the dining room just about fit the furniture. But the location was great, it had a porch, and best of all, there were three bedrooms (okay, two and a half). I gleefully made my way through the rooms, mind awhirl with calculations. I could fit a bunk bed in the small room, a crib and hi-riser into the bigger one.… “I could live here until I have seven kids,” I concluded.

Except, as my 19-year-old self would soon discover, this didn’t account for two basic facts. One, kids don’t spend their days stored neatly in their beds. And whatever it is kids do when they’re out and about, calls for more space than this cute little 700-square-footer.

Also, kids come with Things. Lots and lots of Things. And this house, with its dearth of closets, was going to be mighty intolerant of Things.

Which is why, a few years and considerably fewer than seven kids later, I was beginning to feel suffocated. It wasn’t even the lack of living space — though that was an issue, too — so much as the Things. They were everywhere.

There were Things littering the tiny counters, clogging the narrow drawers, piling on every surface. And as their numbers swelled, so did their boldness. They fled the inconspicuous corners where I valiantly tried to cram them. They played spirited games of hide-and-seek, asphyxiated my vacuum cleaner, and assaulted anyone brave enough to open a cabinet. We were being overrun by Things.

But I refused to be cowed. I wouldn’t take this invasion sitting down. I’d be stronger and smarter and more organized. It was a battle for sovereignty, and I was determined to win.

I scouted out Target, explored Home Goods, browsed The Container Store, and good ol’ Amazon. I developed astounding proficiency in Sterilite items. I spent hours debating the merits of the 6 x 3.75 -inch container versus the 6.5 x 3-inch versus the 5.9 x 4.2. (Then I ordered all three and spent hours getting confused between them.) Slowly, my arsenal filled up.

I had containers — scores of them — in all shapes and sizes. There were shelves and dividers and tiered racks, little plastic drawers, and cartons and bins. Soon, every cabinet fit the contents of two. The closets were stacked with quantities of plastic that would make any environmentalist shudder. And the Things sat immobile in their assigned places — heads bowed, silent, subdued . I smugly proclaimed victory.

But it wasn’t long before there were murmurings of rebellion. The Things snuck out from under bulging lids, collaborated in a massive domino-style maneuver, and sprouted reinforcements at an alarming rate. It wasn’t looking good for me in this fight. So I opted for flight. We moved.

The new house had closets  ® many of them. There was a linen closet and a coat closet and a toy closet and a storage closet. I was in closet heaven.

But increased capacity called for new storage solutions. There was no need to split each kitchen shelf. The toys could be arranged so that extracting the menschies didn’t require all of my dormant Rush Hour skills. I needed to reorganize the right way this time. And this time, space was on my side. The Things didn’t stand a chance.

The existing containers were stashed in the little closet under the steps, and it was back to the drawing board. Target, Home Goods, The Container Store, Amazon. I measured and calculated and arranged and rearranged. One by one, the closets grew orderly, and I was ecstatic. It was happening. I was approaching my ultimate conquest of the Things.

Finally, the finish line was in sight. Every one of my closets was perfect, every one of my Things settled.

Every closet, that is, except the little one under the steps. I took a deep breath and opened the door.

I was instantly assailed by a barrage of Things. Containers in all shapes and sizes, shelves and dividers and tiered racks, little plastic drawers and cartons and bins. They kept coming, more and more of them, swarming around me, engulfing me, cackling and jeering and daring me to try and subdue them.

I sat on the floor, staring despondently at the jumble of plastic and metal in white and clear. This monster was big — bigger than me. I gathered up the whole mess, quickly shoved it back into the closet, and banged the doors shut. I had been defeated by the Things.

Or maybe I just needed a container to contain my containers…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 803)

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