the emotional process of room cleaning

it turns out that I’m inefficient in de-cluttering my room to make space for a new roomie and start a new phase in life. you see, I have this ambitious plan to get rid of ALL the furniture in my bedroom except for the built-in wardrobe. these include my bed frame and mattress, my study desk, computer chair, two bookshelves, and a TV console. it might sound like a short list, but actually the study desk and two bookshelves contain soooo many things accumulated over the years which makes it a massive exercise to slowly go through drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf, cabinet by cabinet.

what happens is that at first attempt of going through a compartment, I identify maybe 30-40% of things to throw. then it takes another round before I relent on throwing more things. I sort my trash into two bags. personal things go into the rubbish chute, which I trust nobody ever bothers to sift through. functional but nonetheless unwanted items go into a bag that I throw at my void deck: a little treat for the scavengers in my neighbourhood. who knows, maybe someday I’ll recognise my belongings in a Sungei Rd stall…

it also turns out that cleaning the room is an emotional process. I uncovered old journals and forgotten letters — how apt was it that I spent NYE reading an old note I wrote in late Dec 2008, summarising the highlights of that year and spelling out my bright hopes for 2009? I also came across ninja groom’s one year anniversary letter, also filled with hope and optimism for the happy years ahead. I cried and felt broken thinking about how blissfully ignorant and optimistic we were when we were younger, and how things turned out to be anything but —

when we were in our early twenties, we felt invincible.

I ended up throwing away my travel journals and organisers, except for 2010’s where I had asked my exchange housemates to write messages before we all returned home. I surprised even myself… who would have thought that I, the sentimental hoarder, could do so? but I figured that as we grow older and unlock more life achievements, all the trivial details don’t really matter. in all the years that I’ve kept them journals, I’ve rarely (never?) decided to spend an afternoon reading back the pages to turn back time. anything that was memorable would already have been internalised by then. it’s the lessons and feelings from each memory that we keep in our hearts, not the rest of the noise.


for each old letter that I chucked into the For Rubbish Chute plastic bag, I said out loud my best wishes for the sender. things may not have worked out for me and them, but it worked out in the end.


and then there’s all the small trinkets I bought when I was younger, thinking I would use them someday. sometimes I was right, but it’s those times that I was wrong that really stand out like a sore thumb, as if to prove my foolishness. it was a painful reminder to myself to be more purposeful with my money, and to be selective and intentional with the things I buy. and to avoid gifts where possible, cos gawd… haha.

and photos… of the good, the bad, the ugly. places, faces, and phases. we’re talking about old school 4R, some even 3R, with the date stamped in orange at bottom right. supersampler, fisheye, and good old classic 35mm. I miss my smooth complexion. if you happen to be reading this, please come back to me.

I’m done with the most personal belongings in my room. now I’m left to comb through my items for the second third fourth time; but this time more ruthlessly. I also need to re-organise my built in wardrobe to make space for man clothes (not mine). the walls need to be repainted. I want a new carpet. I need to think about replacement furniture — perhaps a shorter book shelf? If there’s money left in my room makeover budget at the end — which I doubt — I hope to get a chandelier to replace the frosted glass ceiling lamp my dad chose for me years ago. it has drawings of lions snoozing away, except you know, I was 18 when he bought it.

so let’s end this entry with a fun question. do you still keep anything from your exes?


10 thoughts on “the emotional process of room cleaning

  1. Yes, I still do (and did). Threw a love letter I got from my cinta-monyet-ex during sec school days. Merapek nak mampos the letter. Can’t even believe we went through that mentel stage. -.- Then, another one which I am planning to deliver back to him but ahhh gi mampos ah. Buang sudah! (OR JUAL PAT CAROUSELL! – what a Godsent (app sia). AHHAHAH!)

  2. Haha i still do act n hez a gd friend i sooo understand what u mean. I started the spring cleaning last june. Cleared like 8 huge ikea boxes. Then every 3 months did more clearing lol. Nw still have 1 small little box which houses wedding stuff yay. Letting go is hard. Sometimes we see things n go oh i cn use that or oh its memorable bt till next cleaning session it wont be seen again. Same as clothes lol. I learnt to just look n throw. Tbh once theres only 1 or 2 bits of furniture in the room it feels so nice n empty. Oh check out ikea i got my chandelier there πŸ™‚

    • wow 8 huge boxes! sounds like a lot. and now i need to push my family members to clear their stuff so that i can move things from my room to theirs. sigh doesnt help that my parents are hoarders too and cant bear to throw things away 😦 😦 ah thanks for the tip on Ikea, will check it out when the time comes!

      • Good luck dear..maybe set deadline for them. Or just use cny weekend to for a family cleanup. Ikea has an online catalogue also so cn look2..or q10/ q100(gmarket). Else theres lights shops along jalan besar. πŸ™‚

  3. HAHA I still keep the cards that my ex gave me but neoprints all I gave him back when we broke up loll. But I think i’m a sentimental horder too, cant even part with my higher malay karangan that I did well in hahaha. Cant imagine when I have to clear my things soon though 😦

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