Want a new way to take stock of your life, of who you are as a person, who you used to be, who you've become and where you might be going in this world?
Head into your kitchen and first take everything off the countertops. Then open every cabinet door and every drawer and start taking stuff out of those, too, as much as you can. (The little cabinet above the refrigerator counts.) And, if you, like me, happened to, at some point in your life, install or purchase extra storage space, say, in the form of bonus shelves or freestanding structures, approach those as well, with an open mind. Approach and just start removing random stuff.
Done? OK, now line all of this stuff up in the tightest space you can possibly find, on a big table or something, right there in the open, and just stare at it. In utter disbelief. Then ask yourself: Who am I?
And vow to change.
Don't know about you, but I'm a new person this new year. Or at least I feel like one. Not because I actually performed this exercise myself but because I let someone do it for me. As in, I voluntarily subjected myself to a "kitchen intervention" on the promise of a great reward: I could go out that very minute, to my favorite big box, the kind that sells those incredibly big (but still budget-priced) storage cabinets of my dreams and ask for one immediately. I could have a nice two-man team put the 220-pound box into the back of my car, and I could toodle it home, where the biggest minimalist I've ever known would put it together for me that very day. (This has always been the problem. Even the words "easy assembly" tend to give me hives, so I can't always buy what I want.)
Anyway, there was just one tiny condition: Mr. Minimalist, only in town for a spell, would make swift work of said easy assembly if I allowed him the sayso in what had to leave kitchen and take up residence in basement-destined Mr. Big Cabinet (or somewhere else, trash receptacle not excluded). He admitted the outright obnoxiousness of his proposal straightaway, but I nonetheless accepted straightaway. Anyone who ever offers to assemble anything for me is golden in my book, and, besides, it would be easy, though not right, to cheat a bit once he was gone, if I really, really had to.
I tell you, never did a minimalist man assembling something for a maximalist woman look so handsome poring over an instruction manual – those also give me hives – amid a heap of Part A's, Piece B's and Doodad C's. And he did make swift work of it, getting all except the doors done in the time available.
Don't think less of me if I tell you I had a passing thought that right there was my out. If someone else had to do the doors, maybe I also could hold up 80 percent of my bargain? (Sometimes I am not a good person.)
Well, today, I'm proud to report that it's been almost a full month, I've held up my whole bargain, and my kitchen has never been so happy. Countertops have far more work space, for one thing, and the general lines just look a whole lot cleaner, easier on the eyes at the end of a long, long day.
As for the cabinet, it's one suffering servant. I'm not proud to report how quickly I filled this puppy up. Already, its shelves, supported only by those tiny pegs, are groaning under the weight of Crock-Pots and carafes, pitchers and platters and a veritable landfill of "occasional-use" gadgets and "entertaining" ware. A second intervention, I fear, will soon be in order.
Which prompts a pressing question: Why? Why this and that and that and this? What should and shouldn't linger in our homes? I'd like you to weigh in. Let's "inventory" our lives, so to speak.
Stay tuned in two weeks, which is when we'll get this party started.