Spring Cleaning (Sort Of)

Spring break is a great time for me to take a breather after a busy school term and to re-organize parts of my life that have become a little frayed. During the school year, there’s not much time or energy to be spent doing those deep cleaning tasks that are important but not much fun at all. But I’m usually in a pretty good mood during my two-week hiatus, which means I’m ready for the mundane (after some coffee and a few chapters in my little garden, of course).

This year, I started with the kitchen and dug into the fridge. It looked like a varsity basketball team had been rummaging around in there for snacks and then had a little friendly scrimmage in the vegetable crisper. There were some lonely leftovers near the back that had seen more hopeful times; as in a couple of weeks ago when people said, “Don’t throw that out! I’m going to eat that tomorrow FOR SURE.”

Next, I took on a desk drawer, just to keep things light. Unfortunately, my husband likes to keep small screws, used-up pens, and short pieces of string ‘just in case.’ I’m not sure if it’s a sentimental thing or if he genuinely feels that he’ll someday need an almost-dry highlighter that he hasn’t laid eyes on in three years.

After a couple of afternoons of tossing out wilted lettuce, empty tape rolls and almost-empty jars of jam, I felt confident enough to tackle the big one: our clothes closet. Yes, I am really that brave. It was no small feat. My closet doubles in size every year, like bread dough rising before you punch it back down.

Some of the stuff is my husband’s – the man’s belts reproduce, I’m sure of it. Some of it is mine because I can’t seem to part with any of my cardigans, much to my daughter’s horror. Some of it is random junk, because we didn’t know what else to do with it other than stuff it into the nebulous dark of the closet, never to see the light of day until I get to my annual Closet Punch-down.

And some of it is the flotsam and jetsam that comes from life in a little family, debris floating around that always seems to resurface in the corners of our home. The class photo that’s taken when the photographer tells the kids to make a silly face. The Mother’s Day poetry written in a childish hand. The portrait of a beloved pet, long gone but never forgotten.

It always gives me a little jolt when I come across these pieces of the past. Invariably, I end up sitting down beside the closet, among the belts and the dresses that I’ll fit back into someday (I mean, it could happen). I start paging through my son’s first novel he wrote in sixth grade about a gang of middle school thieves, or my daughter’s manga sketchbook from quarantine days, or the scrapbook of love notes from when Gil and I started dating. The bad news: up to this writing, the closet remains in a scandalous, Pre-Punched-Down State. The good news: I found all of my kid’s old school ID cards that I never could find when I actually needed them.

The best news: it’s a fantastic way to enjoy a little breather in the school year – with memories of life in our little family.


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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