Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pack-rat No More

Domestic Partner loves to watch the television shows about hoarders, people who live in houses crowded with possessions towering to the ceiling. It's humorous to me how fascinated he is by this topic since he is the exact opposite of a hoarder. He doesn't even like leftovers to stay in the refrigerator for more than a day or two.

I am kind of a hoarder. I believe leftovers are still okay to eat a week later, as long as nothing smells bad when you lift the Tupperware lid. I watch the hoarding shows, sometimes, but not as intently as DP does.

Hello, my name is Peter and I am a former pack-rat.

I used to save everything while I was growing up. I have several Memory Boxes that I started while still in high school. I saved everything because I wanted to remember everything. For example, I saved the empty plastic bottle that contained the blue dental rinse from my orthodontist. At 13-years-old, I wanted to remember the time and process of getting braces and wearing head gear.

For whatever reason.

So, living with Domestic Partner has been good for me. I have learned to, every so often, get rid of clothing that I never wear (or no longer fits). My dresser drawers no longer contain old socks and underwear as "emergency back-ups." I got rid of my bike shorts from the 80's and 90's, despite the off chance that I might some day need them for dance class.

I am pretty good about cleaning up the family room table that serves as my desk and work space, periodically getting rid of receipts and old bank statements.

Although my pack-rat-itis has diminished, I still have to make an effort to keep it in check. Last month, I finally donated a pair of powder-blue Ugg boots to Goodwill, a pair that I had bought five years ago because they were on clearance. I never wore them, not even once. Every winter, the old classic-tan pair of knock-offs (Emu brand) still feels more comfortable.

Erin was my First Girlfriend in junior high, about the same time we both had braces. We remained close friends after high school. Erin is the kind of Good Friend who will keep you company while you take seven hours to clean up your bedroom. I'll never forget the lesson she taught me years ago, in the difficult decision process of To Hoard or Not to Hoard.

"Just go through your stuff and consider one item at a time," she advised me. "If the item makes you happy, keep it!"

I no longer have the empty plastic bottle of dental rinse.


Mr. Macabre said...

LOL! I just finished a "Hoarders" marathon today! I'm a bit of a hoarder myself but nothing like I was. SigOther says he isn't but has his JUNK all over the house while I have my TREASURES all in my room.
As far as leftovers, I'm with you on this...I developed the stages of milk:
Stage One: Fresh and in date
Stage Two: Out of date but no odor
Stage Three: Slightly sour, but still good for Cheerios with fruit
Stage Four: Fairly soured...stick with something that will cover the taste like Fruity Pebbles or Froot Loops
Stage Five: Can cook with it in a pinch, just make sure it's heated thoroughly.
Stage Six: Coagulation, don't even dare open the lid.

I've made it through ALL stages, a testament to my laziness to go to the grocery store.

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Yeah, I've seen the show and I don't know which emotion I feel more strongly . . . disgust or pity. The things these people keep. At least your mouthwash bottle had a story (though maybe a picture of yourself in braces tucked away in a scrapbook would've served the same purpose without the, how should I put this, strangeness. Then again, without the strangeness Peter isn't Peter, so we'll have to call it a wash.

Get it? A "wash". Like, mouthwash.

I crack myself up.

Cheryl said...

I'm with you on the leftovers. Totally still good.

Most people who are anti-hoarders knew a hoarder at some point--my mom compulsively threw stuff out because her mom did not. So maybe Domestic Partner is flashing back to a scary, fascinating past by watching those shows, and thanking his lucky stars to be with someone who knows when it's time to say goodbye to a pair of Uggs.