My name is Lee, and I'm a hoarder
I have only been living in my flat for 6 years and consider myself a bit of a minimalist so am surprised by the following things:
- There is a box at the back of my lounge (not even in a cupboard) that moved with me back in 2004 and is yet to be unpacked. It is obviously full of very important stuff.
- I have a cupboard full of plastic carrier bags – a WHOLE cupboard in a flat where storage space is at a premium.
- The top of my kitchen cuboard is covered by ‘nice’ paper bags that I’ve kept from various clothes shops.
- There is a pack of postcards from Vietnam (October 2006 holiday) shoved behind the letter holder in my kitchen.
- I have more wardrobe hangers than an entire chain of hotels.
- I have 6 pairs of tweezers and no, I do not have Norman Lamont eyebrows (possibly because I have 6 pairs of tweezers!?).
- I’m not sure I can bring myself to part with the Canon Starwriter diskette which contains my undergraduate thesis (please note, I no longer have the aforementioned Canon Starwriter and haven’t for at least 10 years).
- In a drawer I had purported to clear out a few months ago, I have an address book containing all the (landline) phone numbers and addresses of people I went to university with, and haven’t seen or heard of since graduation 13 years ago.
- I am still the proud owner of a poem I wrote, aged 17, which is full of all sorts of teenage angst (it starts: “The silence envelops me like a cloud” – need I go on?!)
- Despite the birthday gift two years ago of a set of beautiful saucepans, I still own (and use on occasion) the saucepan set I’ve had since I was 18.
I genuinely didn’t realise I had so much stuff; and can’t quite understand why I’m finding it so hard to part with it.
On Sunday, when clearing out Danny’s flat, we had at least 3 conversations about whether to keep Trevor. I should add that Trevor is a stone turtle with a hedgehog style brush on its back for wiping the dirt off your shoes (although I suspect it’s never been used for such a purpose). “Why not just chuck it?” you may ask, and I would say the same thing in your position. The thing is it has a face AND a name, and therefore Danny and I have given this inanimate object some kind of personality. Needless to say it ended up in the communal flowerbed in Danny’s flat complex; while we could bring ourselves to leave it behind we couldn’t quite confine him to the recycling shed.
What is it about us humans (and I know that I am not alone, bar the odd ‘freak’ who is genuinely capable of controlling their hoarding) that feel the need to collect these (often) meaningless items which somehow make up a life lived in a particular place. I could understand if I was messy but, as Danny will testify, I am probably one of the most anally neat people ever to walk the earth: MY hoarding is in tidy little piles scattered about my flat, consequently why I’m so surprised that I have managed to gather so much.
Last night I filled an entire recycling bag with plastic tubs saved from supermarket soups and takeaways. I’m guessing that I must have thought I’d use them for something otherwise why would I have kept them – but so many?? Really?? The real joke here is that I was chucking them away I was wondering if I shouldn’t just keep a few for the new place because, obviously, while they have been zero use for the last 6 years in London they are suddenly going to come into their own in Cornwall.
Luckily Danny, who is feeling proud of himself for managing to wangle a ‘home’ for Trevor, doesn’t seem to have the same emotional attachment to any of my stuff, and has promised to stand over me all weekend while I pack up what’s been my home for the last 6 years.