While Bill was pleased that he’d found a way to clear some clutter from their house, Kat felt a growing unease about the path Bill’s decluttering was taking. Not the physical path, although she had to admit it was easier to walk around their house these days. No, it was the metaphorical path.
At first the things that Bill donated to the op shop were relatively unimportant. Kat had put up a fight about most things but had let them go in the end. She could see that Bill was happy and admitted that he’d put up with a lot over the years. He had stuck by her through thick and thin.
She’d been so glad to marry him and get out of her parents’ hoarded house. He was a good provider. They’d planned to travel the world. Somehow that had never happened. They’d planned a big family. After a difficult time, Kylie was their only child, and she was grateful for being a mother. They’d planned to do so much with the house and garden. Where had the years gone?
So Kat tried hard to accept Bill’s enthusiasm for decluttering, as long as she could control where the stuff went. But there was this growing sense of approaching doom, a looming crisis. She couldn’t quite place where it was coming from. Was it the reminders of estranged friends when a box of old greeting cards was opened? Was it the arguments over the stuff, so very like the ones she used to have with her parents? Or was it being confronted with unfulfilled plans and dreams?
Things came to a head one afternoon three weeks ago. Kat was sitting at the computer, scrolling through Pinterest looking for a knitting pattern. She had so much wool. If she didn’t start knitting something, Bill would make her get rid of it all. So far she’d found 7 good patterns that used scraps and printed all those patterns off. She could decide later which one to start with.
Bill walked in carrying a dust-covered box he’d found under the guest bed. “Kat, you won’t believe what I found! I had no idea you still had this stuff.” Inside were folders of essays and exercise books filled with notes. There were colourful cardboard posters as well. Kat knew in an instant what it was, and in that instant the looming crisis had made its appearance.
When she’d met Bill she had just started her training as a kindergarten teacher. She loved little kids and was thrilled to work with them, watch them develop and help them to learn. She’d studied hard, got good marks. The essays in that box proved that. She’d taken copious detailed notes, now largely moth-eaten. She’d produced colourful posters as examples of how to decorate a kindergarten classroom and there they were, in that box she had ignored for over 30 years now. Kat’s dreams of becoming a kindergarten teacher never came to fruition.
She’d met Bill, fallen in love and gotten married. It made sense to study part time so she could still keep house and prepare for the large family they awaited. But one pregnancy failed, and then another an done more. When she was pregnant with Kylie, the doctor ordered bed rest. Kat deferred her studies till after the baby was born. Thank goodness for her healthy baby Kylie, because the doctor was adamant there would be no more children. If studying while pregnant was hard, trying to study with a fussy baby and post-natal depression was impossible. She let the course go, hoping to return to her dream once Kylie was at school. But it never happened.
Kat felt an overwhelming sadness, frustration, anger and it bubbled over as she screamed at Bill to “Get out! Don’t touch my things! Stop taking over!” He had no idea what he’d done wrong, but he knew enough not to argue.
Kat stood, staring blankly ahead, took her box and slowly walked to her bedroom. She lay on the bed, box by her side and let the tears come. Feelings of regret, thoughts of hopelessness, realisation of lost opportunities flooded her. Through it all, one question kept coming at her. “Who am I?” She didn’t have an answer.
Catch up on the past Adventures of Kat here…