By BRIANNA GROSSMAN, sophomore (Originally published March 2022)
PICTURE THIS: you get home from school after a long day of flunking pop quizzes and daydreaming about all the sleep you’ll get over break. You sigh mournfully, mulling over the discouraging few hours you got last night—and will likely get again tonight—when a pencil drops out of your backpack. It rolls under your bed and you grumble to yourself as you bend down to pick it up, but catch a glimpse of the growing ecosystem under there. The collection of random objects is growing distressingly large—you can barely find the pencil despite its recent departure. While a cornucopia of calculators that hardly work and old gum wrappers may not be a very exciting sight, it certainly demands an earnest clean-up. Spring break is on the horizon, which means that spring cleaning can’t be lurking far behind.
If “spring cleaning” had a definition in the Oxford Dictionary, it would be something eloquent and refined, but I can sum it up here as simply: for some reason, when it gets warm outside, we decide to dust, mop, and vacuum everything. While at first it seems innocent enough, it quickly consumes the day—more than you would expect. Before you know it, you’ve been wiping windows for two hours, and you’re no closer to studying for your history test. Little do we know that there is a more nefarious plot afoot. Legend has it that we clean when it becomes spring because moms nationwide get tired of seeing all the mud we track inside since it rains so much; April showers bring mom’s glowers, after all. Another version goes that pollen permeates our noses and assaults our eyes, trying desperately to get in and hijack our brains, causing (among a sore throat, cough, and puffy eyes) the intense and sudden urge to clean.
Your parents are definitely overcome with the power of spring cleaning. At any other time of the year, it would be weird to dust every surface of your room. Even more outlandish things become commonplace during spring cleaning. I wouldn’t be surprised if I came home to find my mom using a Swiffer to clean the walls of the shower. Maybe it would inspire me to take a wet wipe to the inside of my pencil case. It gets astonishingly dirty this time of year, and what better excuse to tidy up even my binder than spring
Maybe the urge is only so intense because we think it’s okay to just shove things where we know they don’t belong. We think to ourselves, “I’ll just get it next spring,” and the pile of misplaced items grows steadily larger, proving to be a daunting task every spring. If there’s an old Spanish test you aren’t too proud of, where does it belong? Certainly not in the Spanish section of your binder. It belongs balled up in your locker, of course!
Right before spring break, when you’re busy stuffing all the random papers that somehow got to the bottom of your locker in your bag to take home, you’re forced to do some impromptu spring cleaning. For some of us, the sea of stuff grows to such an extent that one’s locker can hardly squeak closed anymore. You always find stuff you had been looking for when you clean, because the whole point is purging random knick-knacks from the dusty corners they’ve found across the months. Reuniting with all the old club merch you balled up and threw in your locker immediately after pickup could be somewhat of a powerful experience. Not as much, though, as stumbling upon that old library book you never returned (sorry, Mrs. Stein). You might even find, pressed up against the flat edge of the metal locker, an old school ID…and just as quickly (after the initial cringe), you might toss it into the nearest trash can. If you find yourself bored over spring break, you may even catch yourself looting through your binder and recycling all the class syllabi and name tags you made way back in September, which may as well have been the Stone Age. Going on your Mac to catch up on work before work catches up on you could prompt finally deleting all those ScreenCastify videos you made from when you were ten. What a nostalgic activity to look forward to (can you sense the sarcasm?).
As a JP student, while scouring the depths of my locker or the underbelly of my room, I would hope to uncover a myriad of useful things. Maybe while dusting the bathroom cabinets at home, I would find a way to avoid losing an hour of sleep from the thieving daylight savings time, tucked between the toothpaste and deodorant. Cleaning out kitchen drawers for no reason may turn up the recipe not to an apple pie, but rather to a perfect 4.0 GPA. If it were that easy, I would be baking left and right to see if I couldn’t concoct such a thing out of flour, butter, and eggs. Until I finally open the oven and take out a 4.0, I’ll have to content myself with cookies and pies—not complaining, though.
To some, cleaning may seem like onerous work, and to others a way to destress and relax. To all, music can help focus the mind and distract it from the smell of bleach and dust mites. Kelly Clarkson said it best: what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger—but still try to avoid inhaling bleach if you want all your brain cells intact for your next English quiz. Regardless, may your spring cleaning be quick and painless. With any luck, you’ll pick up an old lamp to dust and find under it a winning lottery ticket, or something equally as valuable, like a hall pass with nothing on it but the signature. Although the groundhog was spot on this year with its prediction of an early spring, which means no procrastinating with the purge of clutter from our homes, he has presented us with the unique opportunity to get a head start on being brainwashed by pollen into being productive.