Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hoarding and Fear

When I said I met someone, it's probably not what you were thinking.

I met a Hoarder. I'm not even sure she KNEW she was a hoarder. And, in fact, I didn't know either. We often joked about how we were "pack rats" and we were often saving garbage from work that might be useful for some unknown "craft" project at a later date. We worked at a lab so there was LOTS of cool stuff being thrown out! I could paint those valves and nuts and bolts and glue them in a shadowbox collage. Did I ever do so? Um, no. I did paint a bunch of them gold, though. Then I shoved the junk into a cabinet.

Ideas for old contact cases???
Yes, those are contact lens cases that I collected over years. I figured I might need them someday.

And moved on to another project, another hobby. I still have a ton of rubber stamps from that "collage and altered book" hobby. I never finished a single project. Knitting was a bit more successful - I finished multiple hats, scarves, a sweater, several bags, washcloths, etc. My spending, however, was a bit out of line with my knitting speed. I have at least three very large plastic boxes FULL of yarn. Still.

large unfelted tote
This is an unfinished tote bag, photo from 2007. It's still unfinished. And I still have it.

My friend was very creative as well - she always had some craft in mind, loved thrift stores, and was a potter. We also both had spouses who collected books for a living (oh, ok, grad students, but same thing). Well, as it turns out, her husband got a job, they had to move, and someone volunteered to help clean out the house (after they'd packed up the moving truck already).

I was SCARRED FOR LIFE from this experience. You don't have any idea what it's like until you've been there. There was so much stuff left in the house. It might not have been as bad if we hadn't gone through the kitchen - we dumped out ancient spices (while she wasn't looking. she would have been horrified if she knew we threw them out), expired food, and food with BUGS IN IT.

The lawn was full of JUNK she was "donating." If you saw this stuff.... it was trash. Literally. But, she still saw value in her stuff. Apparently she attempted to sell all sorts of trash at her recent garage sale, but luckily, I missed that. In her laundry room: a box labeled "broken sunglasses" that had no fewer than ten pair; a neatly organized box of plastic sheets from toy packages; a box labeled "gluing projects" that had a legless Barbie doll among other oddities; a box of square cardboard pieces (weigh paper packaging, from work); a box of rusty tools; boxes of easter, halloween, and valentine's day treats all labeled, but never used.

Why am I telling you this? So you know where I'm coming from. That's all. I saw myself in this stuff. I was afraid. So, so fearful. Did she know what she was doing? Did she feel weighed down by her things? She said not. She said she loved her stuff. It was clearly agony for her to get rid of so much of it.

I did not want to be her. She wasn't who I thought she was.

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