The cost of clutter

One hundred fifty dollars is a good sum of money for just about anything. It could be considered a hefty tip on stage back in my stripping days, or a huge dent in my wallet if paying a speeding ticket. Not this time. This week it was the cost of attaining a portion of self-worth that seemed to have lost her way in the back seat of my car.

Like most creative types, I posses a certain panache for designed chaos. When traveling, no sooner is my luggage on the bed than are my belongings strewed across the room. Perhaps I’m marking my territory; something I always felt the need to do growing up having shared a bedroom with my sister for years. Whatever it is, I know Kevin doesn’t like it.

Kevin is every woman’s dream when it comes to a partner. He’s organized, clean and pulls his weight with the chores. I never need to ask him to take out the garbage or empty the dishwasher. On the same token, he knows I share the load gladly. Where we differ is clutter.

To some, a trip to The Container Store is another item on your To-Do list. To Kevin, it’s foreplay. Ok, I get excited too (kind of) when we walk hand in hand between aisles of closet organizers and Lazy Susans. We allow ourselves to get whisked away to a land where everything really does have its place and all is right with the world.

Fast-forward fifteen minutes to our house and while I am perfectly content with the mail and vitamin bottles on the kitchen countertop, I know Kevin’s OCD goes into overdrive.

So I do my best to put (ok, hide) things away. And he does his best not to have an anxiety attack over the office desk draped with five of the books I am reading.

The simple reasoning that I am more relaxed with clutter than Kevin is what brings me back to my car.

In the trunk you will find my gym bag next to my roller blades and emergency car stuff like jumper cables and a half used bottle of oil. Seems like a perfectly acceptable amount of car clutter, don’t you think? It would, if I didn’t have two garbage bags worth of my stuff filling the back and front seat. Somewhere between moving in with Kevin and marking my territory my car was abused; treated like a garbage can and I am ashamed to admit I let it go on for so long.

After months of procrastination and Kevin saying wanted me to drive for a change, I finally got around to cleaning out my car. As I was pulling the trash out from under the seats and rummaging through old clothes and paperwork, I realized I never drove us in my car because I was too ashamed.

After my cathartic de-car-cluttering, the only thing left to do was to get her detailed. I owed it to her to get her scrubbed and rubbed from roof to rims. I wanted a fresh start and couldn’t think of a better way than to invest in a professional auto detailing service.

After I picked my car up from the shop, I was blown away. Not only did I feel different about what I was driving, I felt different about myself. There is something to be said for taking pride in material things we own. When we take care of our things it's a way of taking care of ourselves.

Whether it be your office, car or home, there is a fine line between clutter and just plain loosing respect for our space, which really is another way of losing respect for parts of who we are. Peter Walsh with TLC’s Clean Sweep makes some great points about the connection between self-esteem and clutter. I never really connected the dots until my own personal auto epiphany.

It cost exactly one hundred and fifty dollars to detail my car, which to some, is a lot of money. For me, a small price to pay for getting back a part of my self worth I never knew was gone.

So tell me: Are you tidy or does your clutter cause chaos?