Hoarding

I wonder if I’m the only one who watches that show Hoarders and immediately afterward has a burning desire to purge my house of everything (or, at least, clean it).  I mean, really, they should market that show as motivation to clean.

For the years we’ve been living together, my husband’s talent for low scale hoarding has been a source of humor and also irritation between us.  When we first moved in together, it was boxes.  Every box for every appliance was kept and stowed in the coats closet, the office closet, the bathroom closets (oh, to have so many closets again).  I finally convinced him, after moving once and not using the boxes (his reason for keeping them- the Styrofoam in them was PERFECTLY! SHAPED! FOR EACH! APPLIANCE!) to get rid of them.  But, it doesn’t stop there.  I think Mr. Cookie should get a job as a product tester.  Now not counting because I recently purged our tub of excess bottles, at most times you can find between 2 and 4 cans of shaving cream and at least two kinds of facial wash (NOT my special, rosacea wash) in our shower.  You guys, I rarely even have as many products in the shower as he does.   A few weeks ago, I fell on the sidewalk and had a nasty case of road rash.  I tried out a doctor suggested at home remedy- a cut up pair of pantyhose and a maxi pad slathered with bacitracin.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was getting the job done.  Well, about a day after hearing me complain about how the pads I use are really thin and were providing little cushioning around my knee, he returned from CVS with no fewer than 3 different products for holding bandages onto joints and a couple different kinds of non-stick pads and gauze.  None of them worked better than the panty hose and pad and they now take up valuable real estate in our dining room hutch.  We have so little closet space in our current apartment (and none in our bathroom save the world’s tiniest medicine cabinet) that we’ve actually relegated two large drawers in the built in hutch for first aid, medicine, and beauty products.  It was a sweet gesture and I appreciated it at the time, but I know when we come to move we’re going to have to sift through all that stuff.

Maybe it comes of being a military brat.  We were never able to accumulate much because we were moving every couple of years.  Still, it’s easy to start collecting things.  I was doing laundry today down in the basement, staring at a bunch of shipping boxes my husband has saved (he’s been selling off old books and often has to ship them, so this is justified mostly) when I started to look around.

Believe it or not, this post was not written entirely to poke fun at my husband.  I realized I might have a problem too.  I collect things because I like to be prepared (and I don’t like wasting things).  For example, I have a large collection of gift bags.  These are not generally bags I’ve purchased, but rather, bags I’ve been gifted that I hold on to “just in case.”  I have used a couple, but mostly they are Christmas bags and I don’t have many opportunities to use those.  I also have a bunch of different sized tins.  One year, I decided to do a ton of baking at the holidays to give to friends.  We were living right in downtown Boston and I found it impossible to find tins for the cookies.  Mom happily told me “try the grocery store or WalMart!” except, there’s no WalMart in downtown Boston (we had no car) and the grocery stores don’t seem to hold the same suburban housewife values as my Mom’s.  So, when I moved and got a car, I found the nearest Christmas Tree Shop (really close!) and bought a bunch of tins.  I used most of them, but every holiday season I buy a few extra just in case the great tin shortage of ’06 should choose to repeat itself.  Plus, people often think the tins are so valuable (they really are dirt cheap) that after they’ve eaten the goodies inside, they give them back to me!  And who am I to argue with that?

I think this desire for preparedness comes of a desire to share and help (or so I justify it in my own head).  When I was in high school, all my friends knew I was their go to person if we were out and they needed something.  Change for a parking meter?  Yup, right here in my purse!  Tore your clothing?  No worries, here’s a travel sewing kit!  Chapped lips?  Hey, use my Carmen.  Too dark to find our car in the unlit parking lot?  I’ve got a mini flashlight!  The best part was that I kept it all organized in my purse.  My friends knew they could rely on me and once it became clear that that was my role, I always made sure I was prepared, MacGuyver style.

Now it has continued.  Except, between my husband and I, we probably need a low scale intervention.  I fear we’re just going to keep getting bigger places and then saying “hey!  Extra space!  Let’s get more crap!”  In fact, that fear often seeps in.  I own so. much. cake. shit.  Seriously.  It’s not just my husband.  I’m a hoarding monster too.

And the worst part?  I claim I don’t like “stuff.”  I told him to let his mom know I don’t want Christmas presents but was then lured in when he made several suggestions of things I’ve been saying I want.

I’m a hypocrite.  My storage space is bursting at the seams.  My travel sewing kit won’t fix this problem.

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