Getting a new house in order - Clay Wilson

My mother is depressed. I don't think she would mind me sharing this, because she has a perfectly legitimate reason for her mood.

She and my father have finally moved into their new house. It's a nice house, actually a good bit larger than the one they were in, with an open, airy feeling that makes it seem even bigger than it really is.

That's not why Mom is depressed. She's sad because, after 33 years in their old house, the new one just doesn't feel like home yet. And it would be one thing if my parents had chosen to move; instead, the state forced them to so it could widen the highway on which their former house sits.

But Mom's blues are multi-faceted, and I think one of the biggest things preying on her mind now is that she doesn't know where anything is.

Probably anyone who has ever moved has experienced this disorientation. It's tough packing years of one's life in boxes, transporting them to another location and then trying to re-arrange them into some semblance of order.

Some of us are able to thrive on just the bare essentials out of those boxes. Some of us, like myself, can put up with the boxes stacked to the ceiling, as long as we've got a bed and a decently equipped kitchen so we can eat.

I've still got numerous boxes in my room from when I moved a few months ago. They really make me wonder: Obviously, I haven't missed their contents for a while. So why did I have those things in the first place?

But Mom is, for the most part, a "place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place" person. She's had to make allowances, sure, for living with Dad, who takes after me. But overall, she's pretty organized.

She was always the one who kept up with things in the house – a sort of global positioning system for household items. If I said, "Mom, I can't find my shoe," she would say, "It's in the dining room floor, at 23 degrees north latitude, 46 degrees west longitude."

Or, if I wanted to know where the Q-Tip I used to clean my left ear in first grade was, she could tell me that it was in the top drawer of the filing cabinet, in the folder labeled "Cute but Gross Things from Clay's Childhood."

OK, so she wasn't quite that organized. But she did always seem to know just where everything was. Consequently, I never learned the art of thoroughly searching an area for myself.

I get the feeling I'm not alone in this deficiency, at least among males. Two weekends ago, when I helped my parents move, I went looking in one of the new closets for some clothes I could have sworn I had seen in there.

A cursory examination of the closet did not reveal the desired clothes to me, so I went and asked – who else? – Mom. But this time Mom – already fairly overwhelmed by the moving process – got relief from my sister, who asserted that she had seen the clothes in the closet.

I told Traci I had already looked in the closet and thought the matter was closed. A few minutes later, though, she handed the clothes to me.

I said, "How did you find those? I had already looked in the closet." She replied, "You look like all men look."

I took that to mean that my brother-in-law, at least, is afflicted with the same misplacement malady as myself.

But Mom isn't, and unfortunately it's going to be a while before she can get the new house into an order in which she doesn't feel like she is. I keep telling her it's just going to take some time, but for her sake, I hope it doesn't take too long.

For her sake, and mine, too – I really need that Q-Tip.

Clay Wilson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at cwilson@henryherald.com.