Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 6, 2011

Crampage: The rampage of one who feels cramped

John Coltrane House, a National Historic Landm...

John Coltrane House, in Philly, via Wikipedia

Okay, so I have not gone a true rampage.

But I am feeling frustrated and cramped, as I continue to bring more of my “stored” or occasional-use items from Skokie over to my mother’s Carol Stream townhouse (now also my house… or sort of my house, but we can’t talk about our dirty laundry in public, now can we?).

This morning my nephew Coltrane, who was spending the night here, peeked into my room and sheepishly said, “You got a lot of stuff in your bedroom, Uncle Markie.”

(Note: I will forever be ‘Markie’ to my sisters, and thus for the forseeable future, I’m  ‘Uncle Markie’ to my niece and nephews — except for the 16-year-old boy, who knows better, and now goes by “Bill” instead of “Billy”, at least outside the family.)

I politely and calmly responded to Cole, “Yes, I know.”

But inwardly, here’s what I really wanted to say:

“Yes, my room is as busy, complicated, and cluttered as my life in general. I have accumulated many experiences and memories, hopes and regrets, mementos and magazines, tools and trash.  Furthermore, there simply is not room in one bedroom and half a basement for all the physical objects and various remnants of that rich, stable, unique and complicated personal and family life up till now. This is part of what makes a divorce traumatic, little man. It forces hard, unsought choices about what you value, or what is healthy, or what is “junk” — often before you feel ready to grieve and let go of those things (either physical or emotional) that you have built and/or accumulated. At best, some of them can go into storage for the next generation, or for unboxing to start a vague, happier future chapter of your life. Presently, in this “middle” chapter, what happens, or how much space I can afford, or what the rules are, is being written for me, at least to a larger extent than I can completely control. I am accountable to other people, and to my budget, and to common sense, and yet still must take responsibility for all my “stuff”, whatever that means. So for now I have to live with this uncomfortable, enmeshed, squished-in, cluttered, use-every-inch-of-space, prep-another-Goodwill-box, sometimes embarrassing reality — and try not to be bitter or overwhelmed…

…Now get out of my room, you sweet but naive little s – – t.”

A minor upside: now I know a bit more of what anyone entering a religious order has to go through, by exiting one community in order to be truly free to enter a new one.


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