A case for hoarding

I’m a hoarder.

I hoard paper, photos, t-shirts, cozy socks, cookies, memories, books.

Especially books. And memories.

I’m not so compulsive to be recruited for a reality TV show, but I’m bad enough that closets are always full and there’s never enough storage space.

Not in my house, not in my brain.

Despite this need to hang on, each time I have moved homes (about 6 or 7 times in adulthood), I’ve let go of things I didn’t think I would need anymore.

I purge — in the rapid, violent way the word evokes.

Goodbye to the japanime LeSportSac bag I coveted. Sayonara to the collector’s set of Leonardo DiCaprio movies on VHS. Farewell to the Fall-inspired finger paintings done by my son when he was 18 months old.

When we moved to Israel, a country that does not believe in closets, nor basements, my husband and I did a major purge — in the form of a yard sale and of giveaways to friends and neighbors. But there were about a dozen boxes we knew not to bother opening — for they would go into storage until we figured out exactly what this aliyah thing would mean for our family.

Boxes sealed in brown packing tape marked in hastily drawn capital letters:

JEN’S MEMORABILIA

AVI’S OLD PAINTINGS

WEDDING PARAPHENALIA

MIXED TAPES, SCHOOL PAPERS OF JEN’S, DO NOT THROW AWAY!!!!!!

CARDS, PERSONAL

Those boxes landed in Israel on a cargo ship a few weeks ago and eventually — after the usual Israeli-style run-around at customs — arrived in our storage room/bomb shelter last week.

Carefully, carefully I am opening those cardboard boxes.

Because they aren’t just cardboard boxes, you know.

They are Pandora’s. Modern day Pandora’s boxes.

Carefully… because danger lurks in the folded over corners of hoarded memories

just as often as joyful surprise.

Carefully… because yellowed papers inside a stale smelling tupperware container may easily transform into messages in a bottle.

Carefully… because when you save, when you keep, when you store away, you might just get what you wish for one day–

a portal into the past.

a light unto what was once dark.

* * *

Watch this space to see what I discover inside a set of boxes.

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18 thoughts on “A case for hoarding

  1. I totally relate to this Jen. I have a box marked old 16 mm reels that has made cross country and cross atlantic trips but it would be impossible for me to part with them. Nice one.

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  2. ooh, exciting, can’t wait to hear about it! I’d love to be a hoarder but have had people in my life force me to throw things away along the way (because they didn’t want to keep moving them)…a little sad now that I think about giving in.

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    • Stay tuned Robin. Can’t promise the posts will all be interesting or relevant but I’m looking forward to exploring the past and sharing my findings here!

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  3. I’m not a hoarder, as such, but if anything lies around for long enough I get attached to it. I have a small ‘boat in a bottle ornament, which rests on the box it came on to give to give it added height. Someone suggested I throw that box away, but it’s been around too long now ( about I year ) and is now a family heirloom

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    • It’s funny. Only now that you mentioned “attachment” did I have the epiphany that maybe now is the right time to open the boxes because I am actively practicing “detaching” this year ( it’s my word for 2014). Thanks for that insight Peter!

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  4. Glad at least YOU were allowed to hoard stuff!!! I am grateful for that! Please scan any great pictures of us and pass them along so *I* can hoard them on my computer!

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