We all know the old caveat about home renovations and marriage, but I am the only woman I know whose husband moved out the very same month we moved into our newly fixed -up place! In some ways, this made things easier (for ways in which it didn’t, see HANDYMAN). His stuff was still everywhere, but I hadn’t yet settled into a routine surrounding his needs and habits (basketball games blaring from his flat screen in the kitchen, for example).
It was clear that my ex didn’t want to come remove his clothes and books. As a result, his books and clothes remained for almost a year. When Halloween rolled around, I used a pair of his ripped pants to stuff a faux headless horseman who greeted trick or treaters at the door. “How could you?” he asked when he dropped by. If these pants are so sacred, why did you leave them here, I wanted to ask. Shortly afterward, I was slated to host a school event at our house. My deep dread at the thought of curious parents wandering into the bedroom that ultimately put the fire under me. I imagined them shaking their heads in pity at the Mrs. Haversham-like state of my living space. With all the basketball shoes, cigar clippers, Robert Ludlum books, and 20lb. dumbells lying around, a stranger would be forgiven for thinking that I was waiting and hoping for my ex to come back. This was cringe-inducing enough to spur me to action.
Lacking the stomach to face it alone, I bid on a personal organizer at a school fundraiser and won a three-hour consultation for $75. Would I have done it without the deadline and the opportunity for affordable help? Probably not. But looking back, surely one of the best impulse purchases I ever made. Professional organizers are great for looking at your living space and giving you perspective. As Amanda put it: “Getting rid of his stuff is a whole lot easier if you give yourself something to look forward to.” So, what could I use that extra space for? “Why not use his share of the closet for your old financial files and tax returns?” said my new best friend. Genius. The ex’s closet is still my least favorite spot in the house, but at least it is because of my odious crap and not his. Add to this, that crap no longer lives right above my desk, staring down on me working. And what about the man cave my ex designed for himself, complete with a bookshelf cum secret sliding door, activated by pushing the Film Encyclopedia on the third shelf? We talked and realized it wanted to be a project room where I could indulge my Etsy fantasies. Now, when I walk in there, aah! Sexy softness and a dose of color therapy.
After she left, I had the confidence to deep-six the flat screen in the kitchen, replacing it with a painting I love that hadn’t yet found its ideal spot. And while I held my breath waiting for my kids’ acerbic accusations, it was almost two weeks before they even noticed it was missing. At first, coward that I am, I told them it needed to go the shop for repair (and it did, only it never actually made it there). It has been six months and they have never once expressed missing it. “It actually looks a lot more inviting in here,” admitted one TV loving friend who dropped by the other day. Maybe my ex wants the TV for his new kitchen? Nope. The kids say they would rather have the quiet.