Intimate Clutter, and Where it Belongs

I’ve always been a wanderer with cement tied to my feet. My heart soars above clouds that my body creates, driving around the same circles every single day. I’m the Mustang in the garage, hidden beneath a plastic tarp and years of dust. Watch my clean carpet turn grey where my path has been worn. I don’t like change, but I yearn for it. I need a different destination, so I can write something new about another place I miss. It’s not the engine that’s dead; I’m just always out of fucking gas and there are about a hundred boxes filled with the other things my days are booked with, blocking the door.

I’ve been working to get rid of those boxes. Just today, I loaded about five boxes of this clutter into my truck, where it shall sit until the Wee One decides he is ready to be awake, then we will haul it to the local charity shop where it will then become someone else’s life clutter. As I let go of things, it makes it easier to let go of more. It’s the finding things again that has me caught up – some of these findings make me question why I wanted to save them in the first place. My new life is almost offended, no, definitely offended, by the things my old life is attempting to cling to. Purging these things, and these memories, from my home and my heart, has given me a sense of having a weight lifted from my shoulders. I can walk through my home now and almost forget that he ever stepped foot there.

It’s a process, one that has taken more than a handful of years. There are some who might die under the weight of their losses and the plastic, wasteful junk with which they’ve compensated for those losses, and there are some who wake up one morning with a nightmare in their fresh subconscious and know for certain now that there must be a way out, and it has now come down to surviving this versus surviving life in general, and I’ll be damned if I wake up ever again as empty as I did that morning.

It is not that I want to consciously uncouple myself from all of my worldly goods. I want to sort through the inventory of my life and decide, after 25 years, what kind of person I’m going to be, and the kind of person I’m going to teach my children to be. Spending time with some people who have very little belongings but so much surer footing in this world than I do has made me seriously reconsider my values, and what I truly need and desire, rather than what society tells me.

It’s just stuff, and it can’t be brought with us when we leave. In fact, if we are to go anywhere, there must be accommodations made for all of the stuff, and do we need the extra hassle? Do we really? I will never let go of my Great Escape, I will never put away my dreams for adventure. I can wait as long as I have to but I won’t wait forever. It should be a sin to say you’ll wait forever… because if you’re waiting, you’re not doing something to make it so.

When one has acquired so much, is it still as important today as it was the day it was acquired? Does it still have a place of pride in the center of the mantel? Most likely not. I can admit that I find something new to make my day every time I step foot in a thrift shop. As soon as I set eyes on it, I get a giant ball of WANT in my gut and it grows and grows until I can’t stand it and I’m standing at the register with someone’s old junk, telling myself my interior décor is now complete. Really, except for the fact that I want to change this, or that, or get this for that and do this thing with it and paint and you see where this is going.

It never ends.

I’m a junk hunter, and I love it. I love a bargain, something I get from my grandpa. He’s the best bargain hunter in the entire Universe. He’s the Boba Fett of bargaining, and I’m not exaggerating. He loves a story, and every thing has a story. I think some of the best things about me as a person come directly from having been exposed to so much of his contagious explorer’s heart.

The difference, however, is that he has always had an anchor. He has always had a home.

I’ve had so many that I’ve never had one.

This is the cloud in which I found my head today. FGL and I are still working out the details of our Life 2.0 project, our Fresh Start, or New Beginning, or something. We haven’t figured out the title, just the vision: a new home, a new city, new jobs and a new sense of purpose. We’re at a crossroads here, between what we’re used to, what feels safe, and the opportunity to explore and grow. I mean, or fail. Failure is always an option, just never the one we want to fall back on.

Of course, there are restrictions. There’s always a fence somewhere, am I right? I must stay in Michigan. I can’t take my daughters from their fathers, we have family we love (and worry about) here, and we’ve decided we like at least 75% of the weather, but we know how to drive in the snow. We will do what we must. So, we’re staying here. But every passing summer day reminds me that there is a whole wonderland of amazement and beauty to be explored in this state, and there are so many different pictures of what our ideal home would look like… sometimes within the same square mile. With such diversity and what can sometimes feel like so little opportunity, it makes finding a niche more difficult than it first sounds.

We’re looking for land to plant our roots. Right now, we live on a street surrounded by the rest of our family. With Mom across the street and brothers next door, with a gaggle of cousins on all other sides, it makes it feel like a very heavy family tree sometimes. When do we fall off? When does the fruit roll down the hill and plant itself again?



I’ve grown my own tree, and feel now as if my branches are weighed down. I am not meant to be a branch. I cannot bend much further without breaking.

I always was more of a leaf kind of girl, blowing in the breeze, happy to be wherever the wind carried me. Then I met him, my giant Redwood, my steady and surefooted love. My tall love. So tall, in fact, that with him for eyes, I can see so much further than I ever could alone. He makes new horizons possible, and makes the whole world so much easier to reach. I want to see those places with him. I want to go and do and be and exist everywhere, with him. I want to explore with him and find something, someplace, that is ours.

He is so deeply rooted, and I’m the incessant weed. I find myself incredibly emotionally attached to places. Even if I do not stay long, I can invest a major portion of my heart to a place, be it a city, house, abandoned building or even a bridge (we’ll save that story for another time). Here I am, attempting to uproot him for the sake of my demented idea of what I think our future should look like, with a terrible track record for change, especially related to location.

I’ve lived in some places where, during my childhood, the sun did not shine. As my life has evolved and the Earth has revolved, I can see the upside to my parents’ decisions in where to raise me. Leslie will always be a place of fear, rejection and suffocation for me in spirit, but as I drive through the small town, I see a quaintness I couldn’t identify then. Had I never lived at the modest gray house near the end of E. Race Street, maybe I would like to stake a homestead there as my father tried. Waterford is a nice enough place, but I’ve lived here long enough to realize what it truly means to say, “there goes the neighborhood.” I have watched my once bustling little neighborhood become a ghost town of shuttered windows and unkempt lawns. It has been heartbreaking, and as nearby Detroit struggles with disappearing neighborhoods, I have to wonder if it is coming closer to my home. This type of behavior, this trend, cannot be present in my version of Amalgam.*

Generally speaking, this is Waterford.

Generally speaking, this is Waterford.

*Amalgam is a fictional utopia created by Bill Bryson, written about in his book “The Lost Continent” which I am currently reading. Awesome book, by the way.

It's as lonely as it looks, and then some: Leslie.

It’s as lonely as it looks, and then some: Leslie.

Born in Bay City, with my father’s family being there, that’s where I identify being “from,” though I was only there until I turned six, the summer after which we moved to Leslie. I always felt like that move was a betrayal, but I couldn’t say who had committed it, and to whom it was against, not for certain. I felt betrayed. I also felt as if he were taking me away, or taking them away from me, like I wasn’t going to be part of them anymore and why had no one asked me what I thought?

Center Avenue, Bay City, Michigan

Center Avenue, Bay City, Michigan

I know now, how they felt. I was forced to do the same for my own daughters. I have seen nothing but positive change since, however, so I suppose you win some, you lose some. I’m glad I won this one. Or did I? I fear the day they come to me and tell me how much they hate me for all of the disruption I’ve ever caused in their lives. I hope it will be different; I know that I have taken steps my father didn’t. I think we’ve reached a place where we can all understand those changes and live with them, and I daresay we’ve even reached a place where we have all grown from said changes.

Don't go into the woods. Lake Isabella

Don’t go into the woods. Lake Isabella

There is a beautiful lake, nestled in the very literal Middle of Nowhere. On that lake are gorgeous mansions, much like the one my landlord lived in on the Carolina coast. Just behind those mansions, hidden in the, let’s call it the valley of those man-made hills, is a small village called Lake Isabella. Don’t let the name fool you; it’s a dark, treacherous place for a tender soul to tread.

It was a place where dreams go to die; to rot in the woods, never to be found again. This is where loneliness lurks. This is where my life almost came to a very dramatic, frustrating, terrifying, screaming, crying, desperate end. It was the site of my fall from grace, the crash and burn of my very soul. It was the place I had run to, seeking a bunker from the battles of that terrible summer I spent as a single mother, only for my efforts to be rewarded with a layoff and a termination. My journey towards my attempt to end it all began with the first step of trying to make it all better.

It wasn’t Mount Pleasant’s fault. It just happened, and it happened to me.

It really is pleasant in Mount Pleasant!

It really is pleasant in Mount Pleasant!

But I loved that place, too, the place I took them from. I had been drawn to it from before they could understand location, and the sense of place I’m trying to describe. I had wanted so much to share that paradise with them and share the place that made me feel welcome. I wanted to raise them there, in that Pleasant place I loved so much. It was the first place that seemed to love me back.

I’m afraid of returning. I fear it will not embrace me the way it once did. I’ve changed, and I don’t know if those changes negate needs that cannot be fulfilled by what this place has to offer. Sometimes, I just know for certain that I would be happy with all it has to offer – except for his happiness.

I want to know he can be happy there. If he cannot appreciate and feel as connected there as much as I am, it is not the right place for him. If it is not right for him, it is not right for me. I know, somewhere out there, there is a place where we can both be happy.

I’m smiling right now because I know that place. That place is Together.

Mush aside, we are searching for Home. It has proven to be a challenge, because we have no idea as to where we can look, what we can afford, where we can work, and I suppose we’re waiting for a place to pop out at us and say, “Nice to meet you! Welcome home!” It’s probably not that obvious is it?

I feel sometimes like I’m in a competition with some of my friends. Some have moved away, which is always a huge advantage, because they’ve “gotten out” and some have hunkered down and bought homes, which always makes me feel lacking because they obviously must “have something” I don’t have. (Yeah, money, duh, but to me it feels more personal. Because I’m neurotic, of course.)

Which brings me back to the materialistic tendencies I’m attempting to rid myself of. It’s more than that, really, it’s a grunginess under my nails. I need to come clean. I need to wash away the bullshit and the bad influence and utter chaos of my life’s intimate clutter and clean the slate.

As we get further into this diagnoses process with our little pumpkin, I want to know that we have a stable foundation to raise him on. I moved into this house at the beginning of an uphill battle, and the downhill slope that I once found relieving, has now become a slippery slope into something I very much want to avoid. So much so that I can’t even describe what it really is, only that I don’t want it. I have climbed the mountain. I do not want to go back from whence I came – I want to go further, upward and onward. I have seen the greener pastures and that’s where I want to be. Trouble is, there are so many to choose from and not all of those pastures need me as much as I think I need them. Which causes an issue when trying to balance the checkbook, because, until I can bring myself to want to “live off the land” (get my hands too dirty, so to speak) the checkbook still has to restrain my financial abilities. It’s something I can live with as long as we can cooperate and communicate. We’ve done pretty well so far, despite a few hiccups.

It’s as much for me as it is for him, I admit. I guess I want that stable foundation, that foundation which is truly Benjamin. I have never embraced a name like I have wanted and accepted his, and I feel it deserves roots in a good place. This is what marriage is for. It’s for having a partner to take these big steps with, to help move these milestones along. I want to start moving some milestones. Just because we’ve hit this roadblock doesn’t mean we’ve hit a dead end. Even if we don’t know how big this roadblock is just yet.

It’s scary, not knowing. I’m so scared of what his life might be like in a few years. Will it matter if we celebrate birthdays? Will it just be a constant reminder of where he is and where he isn’t, what he can and cannot do? Will every day be a competition between him and “normal” kids? Worst of all, can he feel these fears like I do, or am I just a terrible person for this?

But if we knew where we were starting, maybe we’d have a better idea of where we were headed. I feel like that first step needs a proper place to start, a home to retreat to. Despite my best efforts and hardest-hoped wishes for my perfect little boy, Life is not embracing him as seamlessly as we’d wanted. He’s going to have things a little tougher and if I can make anything better for him, it will be his home base. If I can give any of my children something I didn’t have, it will be home.

I just have to find it first.





2 thoughts on “Intimate Clutter, and Where it Belongs

  1. AMEN to that Shannon!!!! I still haven’t found that place, the place that wants me as much as I want it. Keep looking darling, it’s there, somewhere…. I can relate more then you think I can.

  2. i love you and wherever you decide is the right place for your family is where you are suppose to be no matter if you are across the street or across the country. you guys do what is best for you!!!! love you all for always and forever!!! great writing by the way.

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