My name is Jay and I am a hoarder.
Yes, it’s sad but true. I’m what the MerryCans call a ‘pack rat’ and I keep stuff. All kinds of stuff.
We’ve lived in this house for fifteen years and it is stuffed with … stuff. Every room has clutter! Every cupboard and drawer is bulging! We have more storage space than the average small country, and it’s all full of stuff, and I hate it!
So, tell me – why? Why do I keep stuff that I know darned well I don’t want or need?
Well, for a start, um, someone else might find some of it useful some day (outgrown kids’ toys, superfluous kitchenware, curtains, bedlinens etc). Maybe. Especially the broken stuff. I mean, there are people out there just desperate for a Darth Vader with one leg missing, aren’t there?
Talking of which, I keep stuff because I’m sentimental. Outgrown kids’ clothes and toys and toddler drawings, ancient hippie jewellery from my youth, my wedding dress – which wasn’t even a proper wedding dress, being home-made by my neighbour from white cotton seersucker – hospital bracelets from when the kids were born, everything with any kind of fond association, which is …good grief, pretty much 90% of what I own.
To be fair, some of the stuff is still here because I collect it – pressed glass jugs, Depp memorabilia and magazines, movie posters, photographs, holiday souvenirs, greyhound collectibles, etc. That’s legitimate stuff, right?
Maybe another reason I keep stuff is because I think I might be able to sell it for cash in my old age. I know I’m pretty hopeful here, since the house isn’t full of antiques or original art or anything – it’s just random bits and pieces which don’t fit into my current collections, like, my old childhood stamp album for goodness’ sake!
Then there’s the stuff I keep because I have no idea what the fuck to do with it- stuff which I don’t want but isn’t worn out and no other bugger wants it, either. F’rinstance, an old Bronica with a ton of accessories, and a very bad portrait of OH’s brother. Yes, that’s the portrait in that photo up there, and he didn’t really look much like that.
I also keep stuff because I think I might want it at some point in the future – clothes that I’ve outgrown (in both directions), kitchenware, games, books … oh, I’ll just catalogue the house for you, shall I? Hang on, shouldn’t take more than a year or two. Shall I make you a cuppa?
Every so often, I have an attack of sanity and start sorting. Over the years, this has resulted in the relocation of an awful lot of stuff, but very little reduction in quantity. I’ll get started, all enthusiastic, and find that I can’t bear to throw the stuff out, so I make piles. There’s the pile which is intended for the charity shop, the one for long-term storage, the one to sell or put up on Freecycle, and the one to offer to the kids, friends, various relatives, or anyone stupid enough to take it from me and swear that they really, really want it.
And then I get interrupted or disheartened or tired and I stuff each pile in a separate box and, well, store it somewhere. Usually on top of something else. See that picture up there?
Sometimes I panic that the house will catch fire and all my stuff will go up in flames, and of course, part of me would be wringing my hands and freaking out at the loss of it all, but a tiny cowering-in-the-corner-with-a-box-over-its-head part of me would be secretly relieved, because all of this worrysome stuff would be gone.
I have four sewing machines, for fuck’s sake – two of them broken, and one so ancient that it has long outlived its usefulness … but … but …well, it’s pretty, and it reminds me of my childhood!
Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi!
Today, I’m going to start de-cluttering. Again.
Wish me luck, fellow bloggers – and may the Force be with me.
It’s the stuff of nightmares, I tell you.