I am not a hoarder. The neat freak in me couldn’t handle the mess. If anything, I err in the opposite direction, tossing stuff others would probably keep. Whether the result of nature or nurture, I can’t say. As with most traits, I suspect both play a role.
My parents were both OCD control freaks. At least once every few months, I’d come home to find my bedroom spick and span…almost. A note atop a mountain of clutter piled on the bed, almost to the ceiling, advised me to deal with the mess, pronto, if I knew what was good for me.
Knowing what’s good for me has never been my forte. Google “slow learner” and my picture shows up in images. Okay, it doesn’t, but it should. Lord knows I’ve mentioned it here often enough. Anyway, in this particular case, experience had taught me that trashing all but the most valuable items in the pile was a helluva lot faster and easier than organizing the mess.
Frequent moves from one tiny apartment to another reenforced my anti-hoarding behavior. I designated a squarish box no larger than twenty inches on a side nearly forty years ago for all my snapshots, family photographs, and any greeting cards deemed keepable. So far, a second box hasn’t been needed.
My high school yearbooks may well be my Most Valuable Possessions. I can’t think of anything in my house right now outside of my memories box that I’ve had longer than those three volumes. I’ve lost track of the number of times they’ve been packed and moved.
I’ve kept a journal since 1979. Once upon a time, early volumes shared space in my memories box. Now the twenty-plus volumes sit on a shelf in the top of my closet. Other than a complete read through as I prepared to write my never-to-be-published memoir, I rarely look back at what I’ve written. A shrink might have fun with them, but anyone else would be bored to distraction.
The mirror over my fireplace came to me in 1986 after my grandmother died. She’d kept it on her mantle for as long as I can remember. On the opposite wall hangs a mirror from a dresser my Aunt Toodles used for many years. She gave it to me in 1984, on her wedding day, the Valentine’s Day after her fiftieth birthday, along with her fully-furnished apartment and everything she owned but the clothes on her back. The matching framed mirrors my dad made for me are in my home office. None of the mirrors are worth a dime to anyone outside my family.
Around 1990, my then partner gave me two plastic travel mugs adorned with the logo for the auto parts store he managed. The logo wore off years ago, and the tab to lift off the top broke on one just a few weeks ago. Fortunately, the missing tab in no way hinders my continued use of these MVPs. I use one of them almost every day, and have since day one. Any of my ex’s can confirm how important these mugs are to me.
I have a set of signed and numbered Nellie Meadows prints I found in the attic of the first house I bought. Another ex left me an abstract oil painting on a large canvas and a nicely framed and matted sketch of a nude male. I have several framed cardinals painted by various artists — all from Aunt Toodles I think.
The most recent addition is a small wooden chest my father gave me right before he died. He claimed it was worth a fortune. I haven’t had it appraised because I don’t want to find out he was wrong, and I don’t really care. Along with my travel mugs, mirrors, and yearbooks, it’s priceless to me.