When i go home to visit my parents a few times a year, my mom and I have a little dance we do. She asks me to go through some of the stuff in my childhood bedroom and decide what I want to get rid of. I tell her I will, and then I do not. I wouldn’t know how to begin sifting through the drawers and storage containers brimming with high-school notebooks and old sweatpants, and my mom offers no guidance. Instead, we both gesture at a mutual effort to declutter, and that’s enough to tide us over until the next time I return to Atlanta.

My mom and I did a version of this dance even before I left home for college, 16 years ago. I’d tease her about how many cans of on-sale soup were in the pantry; she’d banter back about the CDs I kept trying to sneak into the house. My dad contributes to the family’s choreography of clutter too, usually with necessities for his favorite hobbies: books and running shoes. Now, separated by 750 miles, Mom and I keep limber for our occasional performances over the phone, vowing to each other that we’re going to clean out our closets or organize our freezer, finally. Those promises are generally hollow, but it’s nice to think about fulfilling them.

Remember, if you or someone you know is suffering from hoarding, you can contact us at www.facebook.com/CloudsEndCIC for help.

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