When I was 12, we visited my Great Aunt. She had this hippy’s wet dream of a farm, in the mountains outside Santa Cruz. I loved the place, and my mom was close to her aunt, but we never visited for more than an afternoon–because their house was a hoarder’s house. There was stuff everywhere in there, even in the living room. We weren’t allowed into most of the house. The newspapers were what I remember most. My Great Uncle evidently had a thing for tabloids.
Sometimes I think I’ve inherited the packrat tendency. I’ve never had to really give up my stuff or suffered the misfortune of losing it all.
When I was 17, I joined the Navy, and left for boot camp with nothing but the clothes on my back and the items on my authorized list–and when I got there, even the clothes were gone, replaced with issue sweats.
But this sacrifice was illusory. While I had packed up all my worldly goods in anticipation of my parents’ move to a smaller home, they stored it all for me, and as soon as I reported for training in Orlando, select items were shipped to my aunt who lived there, and were waiting for me at the barracks upon my arrival, in the keeping of my future husband.
With that steady paycheck, I quickly accumulated as much stuff as I had room for in the barracks. Eventually I rented an apartment for the stuff, even though I could have lived in the barracks for free. When I had to move, the Navy packed it all up for me and sent most of it to storage, until I was somewhere with room again. When I went to sea duty, I had only a seabag full of stuff. Again I filled every nook and cranny available to me. My MWR locker and things stored with friends in Japan were abandoned, thanks to 9/11 (my ship did not get back there on time for my departure), but I shipped upwards of a dozen boxes of books home from the ship. They were in my work space, mostly.
Now I live in a three bedroom home with five other people, and we have way too much stuff. The kids’ stuff is out in the open taking up a lot of space, but in the nooks and crannies, I’m one of the worst offenders. At least none of it is in my mom’s shed these days.
I yearn for freedom–from the stuff.