I made a courageous decision: I took the dusty monogrammed towels off the rack and put them in the dirty clothes hamper, sorted through the excess towels, kept only the few that we could use, and gave away the rest. After they were washed, we actually used those fancy towels to dry our bodies. Shocking! I felt like a Bohemian. I had never actually seen beautiful towels in use before, and I was sure that it simply was not done in polite company. I also felt a little bit naughty: When I was a teenager, a psycho lady once screamed at me for drying my hands on her show towels. It felt good to break the rules a little, and in some small way, get my revenge. As it turned out, those beautiful fluffy white monogrammed towels felt as good as they had looked on the rack. They felt better, in fact, than my Pledge-commercial-house ideals.
Each decision that I made expanded my mind and opened my eyes a little more every day. Rethinking the way I had been living, and putting it all aright, was like doing a Chinese puzzle. You know the little plastic kind with a tray full of numbered square tiles in random order with one tile missing? I used to get them as favors at birthday parties when I was a kid. To put the numbers in order I had to slide one tile at a time into the empty space. In the process of solving the puzzle, the numbers would become jumbled and unjumbled multiple times before they were set in order. That is how my thoughts were as I worked my way through the clutter. Over and over I had to ask myself, “What should I keep? Where should I put it? What should I throw out? What should I store? What if I need it again? How much is enough?”
Sometimes, like with the monogrammed towel decision, I had to give up my dreams for a better reality. Many times, however, I was not ready yet to let go, so I boxed things up and put them out in the still-doorless shed. The inside of our home, the part over which I had jurisdiction, was looking better and better.
The next time Holly came over again, about five days after giving me the book, she was stunned. As she came through the front door, she had to catch herself from falling off the stairs. The house was clean; the girls were napping, dinner was simmering in the crockpot and I was relaxing on the sofa reading.