Lost in a sea of packing tape

I watch Hoarders, even as I wonder what I’m watching or why I find someone else’s obsession viewable. One episode and I was interested; two and I was rather well past curious; three and the fascination had taken hold. One of the things that I ponder with regard to hoarding are the kinds of reasons and justifications the hoarders supply for their accumulation of things and/or animals. To a layperson like myself, these look like the following:

  • I’m going to do/make something with that
  • I’m going to give this to someone someday
  • If I just fix it it’ll be great/priceless/beautiful
  • I couldn’t let it go to waste/be unloved
  • I don’t want to forget the memory this reminds me of

It’s this last one that I personally understand the best. It’s resonant with me because I push myself through life so hard at times that I fear I’ll lose part of what made a previous moment important. More upsetting is thinking that I can lose memories of people who aren’t around anymore, so things they owned or pictures of them take on meaning they probably shouldn’t have. I’m fine, overall, not accumulating objects d’art or otherwise, and I go through regular periods of casting off, but there is a certain pain involved in packing up everything I own into cardboard boxes and seeing my material possessions disassembled and depersonalized.

My grandfather’s tin drinking cup is in there somewhere. My Joy of Cooking signed by my mother with the little happy face she always leaves at the ends of her notes. The oil painting my uncle gave my father, that hung in his office for 20 years. Wedding photos, taken a scant two years ago. I have an attachment to these things, and I can only scratch at the most immediate reasons why, suspecting my emotions go to places I can’t actually recall anymore.

This very minute Susanne is asking me what I plan to do with the 20 or so dead batteries that are in a marble container on a bookshelf in our living room. Fortunately for me I ran across our alkaline battery charger upstairs in my office. I jump suddenly to the hoarding justification #3. She nods her head, listening to me, her face expressing a wisdom I won’t have for another decade or so. I swear I got rid of a lot of stuff in DC, before we moved out here. I use my Walla Walla public library card faithfully and on a regular basis, so I have accumulated a minimum of new books.

To make myself feel better about storing dead batteries in my living room, I proudly announce that I will go through my mass market books and toss out the ones I don’t need to pack. In terms of volume, one mass market is the equivalent of those 20 batteries. In terms of weight, however, I’d need 50 or 60 of them. And in terms of guilt I’m betting I need to toss roughly 125. I am a large fount of guilt.

I hate moving. Spaces are meant to have things in them, not sit vacuous, echoing sounds as small as my breathing. Though I don’t want to sit in a space filled with clutter, I enjoy having objects around me that reflect my interests, my people, my past.

The old VHS tapes I made of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Secret of My Succes$, and Ruthless People, well, I’m not sure what those say about me.

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2 Comments on “Lost in a sea of packing tape”

  1. Alexis
    May 26, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    I remember being in awe of your VHS video library when we were kids! You can’t throw those out! (Oh wait. I’m not helping am I?)

    ps – Chuck the batteries. Even the rechargeable ones lose their ability to hold and keep a charge over time. They are sure to be paperweights by this point.

    • evmaroon
      May 26, 2010 at 7:04 am #

      For better or worse, they’re mostly gone now. But also lost to the ether are some videos I made for college classes that I wish I still had.
      Good to know about the batteries! I guess I dispose of them at the battery recycling just across the alley from my kitchen. That’s the one upside of living next to the place.

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