So Organized. So Thrifty. So…Locked In.

The ladder to the attic room.
The ladder to the attic room.

I don’t know why my brain picked the day before Thanksgiving to go on an organizing spree. It needed to happen, though. Sofia’s box for too-small clothes was piled with enough clothes to fill more than another box of the same size. On the shelf in her closet, Niko’s too-small clothes were threatening to topple down onto the floor (I keep them in Sofia’s room so that Niko doesn’t have a panic attack when he can’t have the clothes). I had maternity and too-big nursing tops cluttering the floor in our closet. And I was pretty sure that there was a tub of clothes in our tiny attic room that should fit my amazing shrinking body by now. The job needed to be done, and today was the day the clutter suddenly became more than I could handle.

While Niko was at preschool, I leaned the ladder against the wall and started carrying up tubs of baby clothes from the garage. When we moved to Oregon, I’d been pregnant with Sofia, and we didn’t yet know her gender. So most of Niko’s baby clothes had made the trip with us. My plan was to use the little attic room to sort all the baby clothes into boy/girl and summer/winter so I could take a load to the nearest Kid to Kid, a store that buys used baby and children’s clothing and resells it at extremely reasonable prices. I’ve been passing Niko’s bigger clothes on to a friend whose little boy wears clothes a year or two behind Niko’s sizes, but they don’t need the baby clothes. Time for the clothes — and me —  to move on.

After lunch, Niko and Sofie napped while I carried up the rest of the clothes. That is, Niko continued to nap while Sofia woke up. After determining that she wasn’t going back to sleep, I carried her up the ladder with me. There’s no barrier around the opening to the attic, so I dropped the rectangle of sheetrock back down over the opening. It dropped a little lower than I was expecting, but that didn’t worry me too much; I had other things on my mind. I busily rearranged boxes, moved clothes from their temporary home in a laundry basket into a more permanent box, and tried on old clothes, while Sofia explored her new surroundings.

The feeling of having pre-baby…pre-FIRST-baby… clothes from five years ago slide comfortably back onto my body was enough to make me dance. I was pretty pleased with myself. Here I was, getting ready to contribute to a community of thrifty clothing-swapping families, making a little money on the side. My old clothes fit again. Downstairs, a nice box of clothes was ready to give to a friend. I was so organized. So thrifty. So… Hmmmm. Where was my phone? Shouldn’t I be photographing all this thrift and organization? For that matter, was Niko REALLY still sleeping, or could I just not hear him? Maybe it was time to go back downstairs, find my phone, confirm the continuation of the nap, and then finish organizing.

I reached for the sheetrock.


Well, that was inconvenient.

The rectangle fit perfectly into the opening. This was not a problem when coming up the ladder; I could just give it a push and lift it out of the way. Getting out? Well, that was a problem. There were no finger-sized gaps. I tried prying at it with an old driver’s license. The license bent; the sheetrock didn’t budge.

I began analyzing our survival chances. No window up here; pretty warm and stuffy. We wouldn’t burn through the oxygen, though, would we? Surely there must be some ventilation somewhere? I hadn’t brought up any water. I could nurse Sofie…but only for so long, without water. I knocked tentatively on the sheetrock. Aaron was home, but probably not in hearing range. How long before he came looking for us? I knocked louder. Sofia stared expectantly at me.

I decided to think a little more proactively. Aaron had no way of knowing we were stuck. I needed to get that sheetrock up myself. What I needed was not something to pry, but a hook. Surely, in this still-cluttered room, there must be something usable. Something…like…Of course! A hanger! I grabbed a hanger with a metal hook from a nearby box, stuck the hook into the slim crack, gave it a half turn, and lifted. The sheetrock rose as if it and the hanger had been practicing this routine for years. And there, looking up, was Aaron’s puzzled face. “Did you lock yourself in?” he inquired.

The whole ordeal took maybe two minutes. All I can say is, thank goodness for clutter in the right place at the right time, and for a husband who notices when his wife is missing — though I’m pretty proud of rescuing myself this time.