confessions of a hoarder in training

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dear anderson,

i have a confession.  i hate throwing stuff away.  i saw your episode where you showed your mom’s storage locker.  i anticipate having one of my own one day…i know this confuses you, so i thought i would try to explain how my brain works.

when i was about 20 years old, my great aunt mary passed away.  she lived a few hours away from us, and we saw her a couple times a year.  i remember being in her house as a child, but as the years went on we were never allowed inside her house.  we would pick her up for lunch and she would be waiting on the doorstep; drop her off and she would wave us away.  when she died, we learned why.  there was always the assumption that she had something to hide, and accumulating junk is common in our family.  it was so sad when she died, she was a realy cool, super fancy and smart lady.  she spoke so many languages and i can’t help but thank her for influencing my love of language as well.  she wore a wig.  once, she was staying in my room and i went in to grab something and to my horror saw her wig hung on my bubble gum ball machine.  i’m still traumatized and refuse to eat gum in spherical shapes any more.

but i digress.  probably because i don’t want to confess my sins.

so auntie mary’s house was absolutely full of stuff.  garbage, clothes, books, everything.  and i wanted it all.  well, not the garbage.  nope, i can’t even say that.  i totally wanted the garbage too.  she had magazines from the 1950s and i wanted them!  i was wearing a face mask and gloves to protect myself and still i wanted everything to come back to my university dorm room…i ended up with a few things from her house – a vase, a pillbox hat, a pen, a deck of semi-rascist first nations themed playing cards and a couple books. i treasure them all.  but at the same time i mourn all the things we didn’t get to keep.  not just because of the stuff, but because of their association with her.  that’s the thing with hoarding – it’s so hard to separate an item from it’s history and meaning.

some people might look at my condo and think i’m messy.  but it’s not that simple  the clutter people see isn’t junk to me, it all has potential.  potential to have another use, or potential to elicit emotion.  i don’t want to just walk away from that potential!!  i have paper, boxes, magazines, ribbon and the like for crafts.  i have photos, tickets, programs, reciepts, pins, toys and so much more to have tangible connections to my past.

i think shows like hoarders have really helped people like me.  i’ve become way more aware of the thought process behind keeping stuff.  i really relate to a lot of people they profile on these shows.  but at the same time, i never want to live in filth.  i move my stuff around regularily and do try to cull on occasion.  i don’t keep garbage (food product garbage that is) and i think that is a saving grace.  i will monitor the stuff i keep for the rest of my life, so i don’t end up a tragic case.  but i will always be sentimental and i don’t think that’s a bad thing.

i’m sure i will tell you more about my hoarding, but for now, that’s it.

take care,

~k

ps here is a picture of my auntie mary as a young woman!

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