I am a hoarder. Or, rather, was on the path towards hoarding.
We used to have a saying within my group of friends “She who dies with the most _______, wins.” You can insert anything from a long list that included fabric, yarn, paints, pottery, brushes, sewing things, assorted art project detritus, tools, scarves, clothes, and assorted historic costuming. That is just not true. We have begun to come to terms with our ability to complete projects and use things in our lifetime and of this same ability of our membership. We are now wiser women. We have laid down the law; “If you die and leave us to clean out your house, we’ll resurrect your sorry carcass and make you clean up your own mess.”
The mess in our house was nearing Cat In The Hat proportions. Even if I had his fancy cleaning contraption, I couldn’t keep up with cleaning everything or finding storage space. It’s just a townhouse with Me, the Husband, and Dog. There was entropy everywhere and uncontrolled clutter oozing from all closets, cupboards, boxes, bags, and any flat surface. The office was a room of junk with a path to the computer and a kinda path to the radio. The guest room was simply a repository of assorted life flotsam and jetsam. Closets were bursting with clothes and shoes like a pustule being squeezed. Yeh, I live in Minnesota so I need about 2-3 different wardrobes in order to compensate for the two seasons: hot road construction and freezing winter. But not that much.
I donated 23 pairs of shoes. Twenty-three. What was I thinking.
The truly sad thing was the amount of rubble that was mine. Not items I had borrowed, not communal articles, but my junk cramming every nook and cranny. I haven’t made the husband pitch one thing of his as most of this townhouse is filled with my crap. That’s not fair.
So lots of my stuff has been leaving via donations to Disabled American Veterans, Goodwill, the neighbours, the curb, and assorted garage sales. So far I’ve made back a little of my original investment in all this lifetime accumulation of scraps and bits.
I’ve been rolling through every closet, cupboard, and cranny, all the drawers and cabinets. I’m mostly done. I still have to unload a few pieces of sentimental furniture, more of my project closet (I shall not die for 500 years if I go by the amount of projects still in my closet), more stuff from the garage, and more out of the basement.
When the first truck load of stuff went out with the DAV one morning, I was a little apprehensive. But then I looked around and noticed it was easier to breathe with less crowding me in. As I have gotten better at this over the summer, I have felt more liberated, more comfortable, and more user friendly. I don’t have to have all sorts of odd articles for others in my garage, waiting for the off chance my friend David will actually need an old Coleman lantern from 1930 sans shrouds.
As I’ve been thinking on this, I remember what Richard Voorhees, my Sociology instructor back at Inver Hills Community College said “In order to be satisfied, you have to know how much is enough.” I was about 19 when I first heard that. I didn’t get it back then in 1988, deep in the first flush of immortal, ignorant youth. It took nearly 20 years and lots of gray hair to really begin to understand it and I’ve been thinking on it for many more years.
“NO” is a powerful word. I’m getting better at saying it. I’m learning to say no to more things to dust, but yes to experiences. I have enough in our house. I know that now. What’s now required, however, is experiences. I can’t have those staying home to manage surface area.
So now I’m going outside to walk the dog instead of managing dustables. I know where her walking paraphernalia is without digging for it. I know where my shoes are without excavation procedures. I can even find my socks sans hassle.