I am not a hoarder. I promise.
But, I am a packrat. A sentimental junkie. And the complete opposite of Everett, my minimalist boyfriend.
Chances are if you gave me a note or card of some sentimental value, I still have it in a crate in my basement. Will I read it regularly? No. I probably don’t even know I have it. But when I find it, I’m filled with nostalgia and instantly transported back to that time and place in my life.
I keep photos, cards, notes, old papers, letters…you name it, I have it. There is a part of me that knows some day those people may not be in my life or alive anymore, and the notes preserve a special part of them for me. However, one could argue that they are just gathering dust in an already-packed basement.
When I was moving from my old apartment, I found a box containing notes from my grandparents who have all passed away. I found a letter from my mom to me during a very hard time of life. There were ridiculous notes from the seventh grade talking about crushes and gossipy girl stuff. As soon as I reach to put something in the trash, the packrat on my shoulder says, “well, it’s just a piece of paper. How much space can it really take? You may want to show your kids that one day…” And back it goes into the pile.
Of course, I keep other stuff too. Anything that could be used for that “future art project” could be a puzzle piece to my masterpiece. I get separation anxiety when it comes down to throwing out an old, but significant t-shirt worn down from too many washes. Pieces of flare for a future costume party? Yes please. This is why I get 90% done with cleaning, and then I put the I-may-want-these-one-days into a box for future discovery.
Is it really that bad to keep the little things? Yes and no. I inherited my packratedness. Take one look at my dad’s closet, and you will say, “ahhh, I understand”. I love the sentimental stuff, and that won’t change. However, could I get rid of some old t-shirts, random accessories, or clothes I haven’t worn in two years? Yes. One of the things that I related to the most about Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project” was her attack on clutter. She realized less was more and having less choices for clothes made her feel like she had more options. Hmm, interesting.
I donate regularly heaping bags of clothes when the seasons change. So, maybe I need to buy a few nice pieces and let go of the “eh, maybe I will wear that next time” ones. However, every time I rediscover something I kept around for a couple of years without wearing and suddenly love again, it confirms my need to keep stuff “just in case”. I don’t like be wasteful, but cutting down my closet and my miscellaneous piles could actually create some piece of mind. As the seasons shift, assuming winter goes away for real this time, I will create my “definitely”, “maybe”, and “no way” piles. I will go through the “maybe” pile again and let you know how it goes. As long as I see that project through 100%, I will be making significant strides.
Wish me luck!