Last night amid the bad television selections available, I paused on a British series “Escape to the Country” where an older couple were selling one partner’s London home and combining their possessions for the first time in a move to the country. I hadn’t read the episode description until just now, and the word hoarder was never mentioned during the program, but I recognized the hoarder in the mix from the start. Each time the couple saw a home that suited, the Hoarder began mentally taking over the spaces meant for his partner’s television room. It went a bit like this:
Agent: “And here is a perfect room for your television, Michael.”
Hoarder: “Wait, this would be great for my opera collection.”
Michael: “You already said the upstairs room would be fine for your opera collection.”
Hoarder: “But I like this space, too.”
Ugh. I think I just vomited a little. Every time the Hoarder admired the amount of counter space in the kitchen, I knew exactly what he was thinking.
In the end the couple settled for an old barn that had a wing for each partner and about five bedrooms that could be used for storage. I’m almost certain that the Hoarder will take over his partner’s wing and then some.
When I was little girl and my family moved to Montana, my brother and I started spending hours collecting rocks on the foothill behind our house. We had an old coffee can and our main ambition was to find quartz and smokey quartz crystals to put in it. This entailed scanning the ground while we walked with sharp attention to detail. Any glimmer required some dirt scratching to see what treasure we’d unearthed. My brother also got into panning for gold and tumbling rocks. He was much more committed than I.
Years later, I still find myself staring at the ground for treasures as I walk along. S., now three years old, has inherited the
passion distraction. Yesterday we walked D. to the train station so he could catch a flight home to the U.S.. It was raining quite heavily, but S. and I plodded along, hand in hand, scanning the ground for treasures. She picked up little leaves and said, “It’s for my collection.” Or, “I’m collectin’ this for you, Mommy.” So far this week, in addition to numerous interesting leaves and flowers we would never see in Kansas, we’ve seen some possum poo, interesting skinks, and very speedy caterpillars scooting down the hill in the rain.
S. and I glued our collected leaves (but not the poo, bugs or skinks) to a piece of scrap cardboard. We showed it to D. and it went into the recycling bin a few days later. I love seeing beauty in the little things, but need I worry about S’s new fascination with collecting every pretty little flower or seed she finds on the ground? Each one she drops, she shrieks, “Oh! My flower!” and I try to brush it off so she won’t keep thinking about what was lost. In the meantime, yesterday, I told D. I really still wanted to find my umbrella that I last saw in Florida in 2010.
Collecting is a fun activity. I just need to keep working on the letting go part of it.
Posted in beauty in hoarding, hoarding identity, hoarding roots
Tagged accumulate, beauty, caterpillar, collect, collecting, collection, crystals, details, discard, let go, letting go, lost, rocks, skink
On a professional listserv today a graduate student asked for advice on where to consult French newspapers from the 1980s til now. A professor responded as follows:
“A year ago I could have offered you my enormous print collection of Le Monde, but you would have needed a van. Alas, it is no more.”
A year ago, I would not have batted an eye at this response. Today I’m wondering where colleagues store these tons of paper collected in the name of the profession, and what or who prompted this one to rid himself of the van-full. Where did it eventually go? And, I wonder if his “Alas” sums up the difficulty in letting go of something he may have collected over decades, adding to his personal hoard…umm, I mean, library.
One of my new small joys is meeting the people from craigslist who actually want to buy things from our box of “junk” that D. told me I should throw out. Today I met “Deb” in the K-Mart parking lot, which was an experience all its own. Deb was waiting patiently in her car near the entrance to the parking lot while I was patiently waiting near the entrance to the store. Who can be blamed for such an innocent difference of interpreting “entrance”?
As I handed over the signed and dated glass chicken that had been given to D. for speaking to chicken farmers, Deb handed me an envelope with $3 in it and joyfully proclaimed, “I collect chickens!”
“Cool!” I said enthusiastically as I turned back towards my car, imagining her house full to the brim of chickens. I happen to remember that Deb contacted me about some wooden ducks for sale earlier in the summer, but someone else had beaten her to it.
But what’s this collecting all about? Where does it go and what does it do for us? I used to collect fountain pens. I “restored” one of them today and tried to write a letter of recommendation with this once cherished instrument. It squeaked and dragged. It did not at all reconnect me to Leïla Sebbar who also expressed love for her Parker fountain pen. Nope, mine’s going up on craigslist, probably alongside my turtle collection.