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September 7, 2009

Hoarders

I have become obsessed with this show on TV called "Hoarders." The first time I saw it the episode featured a lady who hoarded food (all food, even spoiled, rotten, curdled food) and I made it through about 15 minutes of the show before I had to pause the Tivo and go clean out my refrigerator, using those Clorox wet wipes to sanitize it, checking the expiration dates of every condiment, throwing stuff away. Listen, it's there, inside me, that genetic desire to hoard, to have, to prepare. I don't know if I am warding it off or OCDing away or just postponing it, but who cares, my fridge never sparkled like it did that night.

Moving gets you up close and personal with all your stuff like no other experience on earth. Sometimes I am comforted by my stuff, as if it anchors me to the earth, tethers me to reality. Other times I feel weighed down by it, burdened, embarrassed to have accumulated so much. I am just one person after all, who has this much stuff?

All those months, years of decluttering and still I have so much. I bemoan it, but then I feel grateful for all my little doodads. Stuff is such a tricky subject. My dad and I talk about it sometimes. He gets me, he understands the tightwire walk between comfort and overwhelmed. I want to take this time as I unpack to consider my stuff more critically. I LOVE a clean house, and yet sometimes it looks like a hurricane passed through (like now, with all the boxes and piles) and now that I have more space I vow not to clutter it up with more junk. I want to have what I need, yes, but not hoard. Only some people understand what poverty mentality does to you, and those people know it's a fine tiny line between being prepared and being trapped. People who grew up poor have a different filter. Sometimes I want to clean all day until you can lick the floors and taste sunshine and sometimes I just want to be so engulfed with my stuff that I feel anchored. Like everything in life, it's just finding the middle space that lets you breathe.

It's such a high-class problem to have, that I know for sure. It makes me comforted, all this stuff. And it feels heavy (especially up three flights of stairs.) Somewhere in there is a middle place, that's good to know. I was an overachiever at Tetris and apparently I parlayed that skill into Tetris closet, Tetris pantry, Tetris garage. Lordy but I can fill a space and it looks so organized! How did I get so much into 800 square feet? Even after paring down by more than half?

Have decided I'll give myself to the end of the month to unpack and then what has no home has to go. I keep reminding myself it's a good problem to have, it's abundance, it's not being poor, it's not having to hold on because it may never pass my way again. Oh, it's just stuff. It's a lot of stuff. Even as I type this I can feel myself breathing again.

We are not our stuff! (Bob is in his space behind the keyboard right now, he's not clutter. He likes to lie there as I type, he's adjusting so well!) Anyway, it's a little bit of chaos here but I'll figure it out, I always do. I got so sure that my relationship with stuff had changed then I moved and saw just how much stuff I still had. I truly do understand how those people on "Hoarders" got where they are. I have nothing but compassion for them. But hell if I will end up that way. It's just piles, boxes, objects. We are not our stuff.

Posted by laurie at September 7, 2009 7:46 PM