So as I’ve been going on and on about on Twitter all afternoon, I’m in the throes of a purging fit. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t stand clutter. It makes me claustrophobic. This was easy enough to avoid before I had children. (Ah, the good old days, when I didn’t have Lego imprints in my foot or sippy cups in every room of my house.) It goes without saying that a bit of clutter is an insanely small price to pay for the gift of my daughters, but I’m an idealist. And so I strive to overcome the clutter in spite of the odds and piles of cloth diapers stacked against me.
When we found out I was pregnant, we were living in a one bedroom apartment. Teeny tiny. Impossibly small, with closets where all the shelves were trapezoidal. Pantry, linen closet — ALL of it, trapezoids. There was no room for anything. So when we decided to buy a house, we were really used to living in a geometrically logistical nightmare. As you can imagine, a house with typical closets looked like PARADISE. The house we settled on didn’t have a garage — initially one of our main requirements — but look at all those closets! Closets everywhere. Did you see over there, honey? ANOTHER CLOSET.
All I can say is, I’m pretty sure the night we closed on the house, someone came in and swapped out All! The! Closets! with … well, less closets. The lack of garage turned out to be a much bigger deal than I could have imagined.
So I purge. And I donate things. I throw things away. I beg my husband to throw things away. I beg my family to stop giving the girls so much stuff. I wish I knew why stuff was such a burden to me. Why it weighs me down and keeps me up at night. My fear of stuff paralyzes my ability to purchase any sort of home decor. I don’t like to buy knickknacks or vases or art for the walls or anything like that. Because it can pile up. It can overwhelm you. And so I live with empty walls instead.
All of this is a complete knee-jerk reaction to growing up in my parents’ house. My mom is, for lack of a kinder, gentler term, a bit of a pack rat. She’s nowhere near the people you see on the news with egg cartons stacked to the ceiling and cats in their hair, but she had very little growing up. So her hoarding is as much a reaction to her childhood as my purging is to mine. Being surrounded by things, having trinkets from all places she’s visited … these things make her happy. But the house! My dad has always joked that my mom can’t leave any horizontal surface uncluttered. My mom also gets stressed out by stuff, but her reaction is the opposite of mine: where I wish for less stuff, she wishes for more space. (Though more space couldn’t hurt. HEAR THAT CLOSET THIEVES?)
If I’m being fair though, I should point out that I do have my hoarding tendencies. Those of the Just In Case variety. I can’t throw away my sweaters, what if we move back somewhere colder? And the boxes for all our cookware/electronics/toys! If something breaks, WE WILL NEED THOSE BOXES. It’s also my paranoia seeping in. If I throw it away, I WILL need it.
So what about you guys? Are you hoarders or purgers or something beautifully zen in between? (If you marked ‘c’, you’ll need to come see me after class. Because, dude. My hero.)