Early this year I decided it was once again time to really clean house from the basement to the attic.
I started in the basement so I would have some place to put the stuff from the attic I wasn’t ready to part with yet. The attic had to be cleaned to make way for stuff I had to move out of the extra bedrooms. The bedrooms had to be cleared so the summer company could get into them.
By April the basement was de-junked enough that I could move my cleaning to the attic. Unfortunately there were a lot of meetings and other distractions, and suddenly it was mid-May. The first company was due in June. I was forced to take a short cut.
A miracle of very careful packing allowed me to clear the big guest room by shoving everything into the little bedroom and quickly closing the door. Since the first company was my sister-in-law that was a safe move. She learned a long time ago not to open closed doors in our house.
Pat came and went along with all my excuses for not getting busy in the attic. Our next company was a couple from the German delegation from our sister city. I really had to shape up. I couldn’t shame the whole country by having one of them killed because they opened the wrong door here.
One hot day in June I pulled down the disappearing stairway and climbed the wooden steps into the attic. I pulled the string and the light came on, but the fan just sat there, unmoving. No need to call an electrician. I just had to turn it on. I pushed the button. Nothing. I: pushed all the buttons. Still nothing. So I would proceed with my plan without any air moving.
First I would attack the southwest corner which, the last time I looked, held household goods that somebody would surely need some day.
There was a slight problem. The only way to get there was to squeeze between the garment bags and under the clothes pole. I was ready. I was motivated. I could do that.
After several minutes I managed to make an opening and, because of the slope of the roof I stooped through to the other side. There was stuff there I forgot we ever had. Still stooping I began to tug dirty boxes toward me. They were clean when I put them there, but it had been a while.
Very shortly I knew I had to stand up, or I would spend the rest of my life resembling the hunchback of Notre Dame. I reached back for the opening, but I couldn‘t find it. It was like trying to find the opening in a stage curtain after you make a speech.
I didn‘t panic, immediately. It took several seconds and a vision of someone finding my mummified body a few hours later that made me consider screaming. The reality that it was probable that nobody would hear me if I did scream motivated me to renew my efforts to find the opening.
It was right there where I left it. I stooped back through and gratefully straightened my back. Slowly I moved back to the top of the steps. Even more slowly I sat down and looked around the attic. I wondered why in the world I had ever allowed so much junk to accumulate. I considered sealing the door shut and never going up there again.
But no, that was not an option. I had to get rid of half of that junk to make room for the treasures from the bedrooms. Obviously I needed help. But who was crazy enough to go into a poorly ventilated attic without a fan, but with a crazy woman in the heat of June to clean out a bunch of junk.
My daughters might be tempted so they wouldn’t have to do it without me after I passed on to a better life. But, they’re adults. They could get bossy. I could hire someone. No chance. There wasn’t enough money in the world. I was about to plunge into a really deep depression when a Super Teen appeared.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on August 29, 2001.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.