Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Dirty Little Secret!

My name is Elaine and I am not a hoarder. I prefer the term curator of my own personal museum. Okay...I may have some hoarding tendencies. In my defense, I do believe it is in my DNA. I had an aunt who was a hoarder, my father is a hoarder, and I believe my mother also had some hoarding tendencies.

In the case of my mother, it’s not that she had an attachment to things; she just didn’t like to waste anything. Growing up, we had two newspapers delivered every day. They both came wrapped in rubber bands. Those rubber bands got saved. In a year’s time, and we will assume that a rubber band a week got re-used, she would have saved six hundred and seventy six rubber bands. She kept them neatly bundled and wrapped with (you guessed it) rubber bands. She also had a massive collection of twist ties and grocery bags. Does this sound familiar? Maybe it was more generation-related than anything else.

I don’t have that excuse. Ten years ago, I made a big change in my life, and rid myself of most of my possessions. What was left could fit in a car (not technically, since the treadmill had to be strapped to the roof) and it felt wonderful! During the next two years, the only purchases I made were a computer, a camera, an artificial Christmas tree (I had two ornaments, both gifts from friends), and a kitten.

Fast forward and I am now drowning in a sea of stuff. Let’s see if I can explain the logic behind my problem. I bought a pair of rustic candleholders made of metal with columns which look like branches. I paid practically nothing for them. I bought them because someday (and the word “someday” is a hoarding mantra) we may have a log cabin and they would be perfect. I also have a quilt, a set of dishes, and a lamp that would be perfect, too. Okay, multiply this example by ten (I also have things for a beach house, a downtown loft, and a farmhouse) and you will understand why I am starting to get frightened.

And, buying stuff is not the only problem. I save things just like my mother. I have enough bubble wrap to circle the globe. In the event of an apocalypse, I'm just sure it will come in handy. I have enough cardboard boxes to start a mail order business. If I had a dime for every time the words “Oh wait, I want to save that box” came out of my mouth, I would have enough money for a second storage unit. Yes, I said second storage unit. I have enough candles that if I lit them all at the same time, they would be visible from outer space.

I moved into the house where my husband already lived. I wasn’t comfortable for a long time because it didn’t feel like my house, too. The other day someone came to visit and commented that it looked like a woman lives here now. I smiled because I thought it was a compliment. My husband mumbled under his breath that the only place left in the house that was his was a corner of one room. It’s true. He has a humidor and a stack of motorcycle magazines. Every other inch of the house has been swallowed up by my tsunami of clutter.

Oh yeah, and the clothes. My closets are divided by fits now, fit last year, fit five years ago, and brand new clothes, with the tags still on them, that fit my dream body, not the nightmare body I actually have. And jewelry--I have enough necklaces to wear a new one every day for a year. And, of course, every piece of jewelry has a matching pair of shoes.

They say confession is good for the soul, but writing this has just depressed me. Now, what can I do to feel better? I know! I’ll find another place for the humidor and magazines so I can turn that room into a kid’s room!  It will be perfect for when the grandchildren visit! I don’t happen to have any grandchildren, but I know I will have them…someday.