Hoarder or Historian?
I know what I am, but what are you? I ‘m a hoarder.
by Peggy Browning
I’ve been going through boxes, closets, and yes…piles of stuff…in preparation for moving from my 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom house into a much smaller domain (a travel trailer.) Now I’ve come to the awful conclusion that I’m a hoarder.
Yep. I’m only one box of junk…one Rubbermaid box of outdated clothing…and a pile of newspapers with a dead cat underneath it…away from being a hoarder.
All this time I’ve thought more kindly of myself…calling myself a pack-rat, a collector, even a historian. But no, I have to face reality and this can be called nothing other than being a hoarder.
I derive a certain pleasure from just looking at my stuff. I even go to garage sales and estate sales because I get excited about looking at other people’s stuff. I love to open a box and find a long forgotten treasure and wax nostalgic about it for a few minutes.
And now that I’m sorting through my belongings, trying to weed out the fluff and keep only necessities, I find it to be rather painful to think of getting rid of all this junk. Some of it holds memories of good times past; some of it holds the hope of good times ahead.
For instance…I bought a pewter teapot at a junk store recently. To me, this is not simply a beaten up old teapot. In my mind, I see this teapot sitting on my kitchen table holding a bouquet of peace roses cut from my rose garden decorating a little home filled with love and grandchildren and fresh-baked cookies. I imagine my grandchildren having fond memories of seeing that little teapot filled with roses, remembering all the love at Grandma’s house. I see them fighting over the teapot after I die. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But…I don’t have a rose garden much less a blooming peace rose. I don’t have fresh baked cookies straight from my oven. Soon I won’t even have a kitchen table, other than the one in my soon-to-be-purchased RV.
So…shall I toss the teapot thereby tossing my hope for nostalgic remembrances of me after I’m gone? Well, duh…toss the teapot. And write that descriptive scene about the roses in one of my yet to be published novels.
And what about my naked Chatty Cathy doll who no longer chats? My Francie (Barbie’s cousin) with the broken leg and smart short hairdo that I styled for her? My Pepper & Pete & Penny dolls with the bendable wire legs? My naked beheaded original Barbie doll body?
I tried giving them to my five-year old granddaughter only to be rebuffed with “Eeewww, Grandma, that’s yucky. I don’t like them.”
I’ve considered it my place to pass along memories, to tell my descendants about my life. I’ve considered myself a historian. When I was two years old, our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Gill, entrusted a china doll, a porcelain cup, and a Frozen Charlotte doll with my mother to keep for me.
Mrs. Gill too, was cleaning out her home, sorting through her treasures, preparing to down-size from her big two-story home in the country. The doll belonged to her daughter, who died in childhood. The cup was a gift from Mrs. Gill’s best friend in honor of her 14th birthday. Frozen Charlotte was accompanied by no story. My mother kept these things secure for me and gave them to me when I grew up, passing along the trust to ensure their safe-keeping. I’ve packed these possessions in boxes and moved them over 30 times, from apartments to rentals to my own home. There are no chips or dings on them anywhere, except for the original chips and dings.
Now what do I do with them? Move them again or entrust their well-being to someone else? (I’ll probably take them along with me.)
I’ve been collecting junk since I was a kid. My Daddy let me tag along to Second Monday Trade Days when he took pigs to sell there. He would give me a dollar and allow me to wander the streets at the monthly trade fair. My first purchase was a set of bookends for a quarter…which left me enough money to buy a snow-cone and other niceties. Those bookends have been packed up and transported on over 30 moves as well.
I’ve called myself a collector all these years, but all that I consistently collect is merely dust. I have some in every room of my house…
The naked truth is…I’m a hoarder. I hoard memories of the past and hope for the future.
But now where will I stash all these memories and hopes in a travel trailer? I sympathize with the hoarders on the TV shows. I know it’s painful to let go. But it’s time. It’s time to let go.
I’ll have a moving sale and set my treasures out for the public to buy.
Anybody need a mute, naked Chatty Cathy? She needs a good home. She’s ready to move on.