Day 316 — Packrat
See all this stuff? This stuff follows me around wherever I go. I have tried time and time again to exorcise my clutter demons, and I have given bag after bag after bag of stuff to friends and Goodwill. But still, at all times, no less than ten substantial boxes of ... stuff ... trails behind me, stashed in a closet, in a bureau, under the bed, in some spare cabinets.
I'm talking broken Furbies, miniature sticker books from when I was 12, every diary I've ever owned, broken desk lamps, loose-leaf notebook paper containing serialized and incomplete stories, sketchbooks from high school art class, billfolds given to me for Christmas when I was in third grade, creative-writing journals from my senior year, three Ziploc bags full of lead pencils and highlighters, CDs I haven't listened to in years, dusty paintbrushes given to me by my grandmother, a lamp with broken colored glass glued to it that I've never once been able to hang up, erotic poster-board paintings of featureless women, the business card of an Indian restaurant I ate at the first time I ever visited New York City, a stuffed Aflac duck, keys that go to who knows what, four spools of unmarked CDs, three boxes of photographs, my (incomplete) Sidelines clip file, bills from 2004, tiny beaded change purses stained by melted candy, wallets I've never once used, scrapbooks that have gone untouched, Christmas and birthday cards I've accumulated over the past decade, a broken ceramic angel my sister gave me when I was confirmed in our church, my old Dell desktop and its accessories, bags and purses I never use, letters from my dead grandmother and great-grandmother ... the list goes on and on.
I have this ritual once or twice a year where I pull everything out of its polite hiding place and go through it in order to "clean up" and hopefully get rid of some stuff. It almost always ends up being an exercise in pointlessness from a purely pragmatic standpoint. I throw out maybe one garbage bag of paperwork. But it gives me a chance to get reacquainted with all the stuff I've stashed and forgotten about. I get to read through my horrible adolescent poetry and cringe at the creative-writing journal I actually let a teacher read and grade my senior year. I get to tear up at the recordings of our band concerts (we were good for a bunch of little twerps). I get to remember all the bands I absolutely loved and then completely forgot about. I get to reconnect with the people in my family who have moved on, but who left me little pieces of themselves in letters and photographs.
I am a sentimental fool, see. Having little bits of my past kept stacked up in my closet helps keep every passing year within reach. If I threw these things out, how would I remember the circumstances in which they were created? My memory's not so good. I need all the help I can get.
A lot of people don't understand this attachment to things, this tendency to hoard. I think we packrats don't understand the capacity to so easily throw most things away.