All in All They Are Just Another Box in the Hoard
A hoard is not built in a day. It is a finely crafted megaton of items salted away in the basement, shed, garage, attic, closets, cupboards and behind furniture, until it begins to spill out into the living areas and lesser used rooms, and out of every drawer and onto every available flat surface. At this point, mine has its own GPS coordinates and zip code.
It started out innocently enough. It all began because of dead people. When my ancestors began to die off, sometimes in inconveniently distant states, my father’s solution was to pack up the stuff that was too sentimental to go through immediately, and ship it home, to go through at a later, less emotional time. The only problem with that theory is that my father had strange ideas about what was sentimental, which is why we ended up with an attic full of strange things like a homemade coffee table full of suspicious stains, a large box of kitchen towels, clock radios and ashtrays, and a box of cassette tapes melted from the heat of the attic. Unfortunately, there never seemed to be time to sort through those boxes, and they sat there behind the Christmas decorations and luggage for years. Until it was time to move, and then they came along with me, because who had time to go through them when the lease was about to expire?
Then there are the actually somewhat reasonably sentimental items that piled up. What kind of heartless cretin can throw away their grandma’s oil paintings? Sure, they weren’t really any good, and were probably done after grandma developed cataracts, but still… And it really doesn’t help matters that both grandmas were landscape painters, and had about the same skill level, cataracts or not. Doesn’t matter, really, because if people are nostalgic for the tv guy who showed everyone how to paint happy little trees, you can imagine how invested I’ve become in these neon-colored Floridian landscapes. Not invested enough to display these tragedies them in our home, but invested all the same.
Next came the personal memento boxes. For example, a couple boxes of childhood toys I was too sentimental to throw out – or perhaps too greedy to give away. People make a lot of money on old toys and other nostalgia on eBay, don’t they? Only thing is, I’ve been torn over whether to sell these things or hold onto them, because how can you sell something for $10 dollars plus the sneaky overpriced shipping charge when I can look at that Charlie Chan and the Chan Clan lunchbox and remember the joy of hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches eaten in the years before they became illegal? In the battle of sentimentality versus greed, indecisiveness usually wins.
Add to all that the paranoia boxes. I have all my income tax returns, from the first year I had to start paying them up until the present. See, I don’t believe that you only need to hold onto these things for what, 7 years? 10 years? No way. When the IRS comes looking for me, I want to be able to go back to the beginning of time and prove that they have sucked every last coin out of my pocket they were due. What if they want to see that return from 1987 and I threw it out in a fit of good mental health? Along the same lines, I can’t seem to get rid of those clothes that went out of style or don’t quite fit. Another decade and a few less pounds and they will be perfectly in style again…or so I tell myself when tempted to recycle them. If ripped up sweatshirts and leg warmers were in style once, they could be again.
I have no such excuse or explanation for why I still have things like my mother’s report cards from grammar school, nor broken strings of Christmas lights from so many years ago it only makes sense to count their age in generations born since they worked last. I cling to the hope that somehow, in some way, these items are bound to be resurrected into something meaningful and useful. Since I am a huge Halloween fan and have been able to make cool decorations out of some of the most unusual items, this doesn’t seem quite as insane as it sounds, but unfortunately can become the rational for keeping just about anything. Dryer connector tubes? Could be monster arms. Old clothes? Future zombie costume. Old mop handle? Are you insane? There are a million uses! And so on. With this mindset, it doesn’t seem weird to keep the old blender that doesn’t work, because when you set up the haunted kitchen display next October, where was the blender full of detached body parts supposed to come from if you threw it out?