I don't really think of myself as a packrat. I like throwing things away. I find a certain satisfaction in using the last of the dental floss, or laundry detergent, or mint chocolate chip ice cream, and disposing of the container. I like removing clutter from my visual space, and an almost empty bottle is just a nuisance. (The same can be said for an almost empty carton of ice cream. I mean, what's the point?) The trouble is, while I may not be a packrat, I am sentimental, thrifty, and just crafty enough to be dangerous.
As far as sentimentality goes, if someone I care about put time, thought, or money into something I now own, I must keep it. It would be ungracious not to, right? I mean how would my cuddly sister, Teresa the Bookie*, feel about me tossing this note (circa 1992)? Believe me, you don't want to cross Teresa the Bookie. When she says cuddle, you cuddle!
By the same token, if you have ever sent me a card, or passed me a funny note during class, or (here's the kicker) written me a letter, I probably still have it. Witness the following, penned by my sixth grade pal, Lidia the Hammer.*
The soc test was sort of easy. I finnished in 15 min. How about you?
The math was easy. I was done at 10:45. How about you? What do you think you got?
I don't really like anyone now. Why were you wondering? Do you like anyone? I don't really care if you do or don't because you won't tell me anyway.
Let's be in a fight all day. Write notes and at the end of the day we'll make up, OK!?
I don't like hanging around short people. You should grow a little! (You really have grown taller!) Even if you're almost as tall as Catie you're still short! Grow UP ^ a little!
Write back or else!
PS: Don't tell anyone we're pretending
The note is folded into a self-enclosed square and marked "DROL," which, if I recall correctly, stands for Don't Read Out Loud. I'm sure I didn't.
Even when I'm not sentimentally attached, frugality keeps me from disposing of the baby swing, the exersaucer, and the velvet Elvis painting currently gathering dust in my basement. I might need them again later. And I wouldn't want to buy them again. Have you ever priced a velvet Elvis? Those things are expensive!
But it's the craftiness that really gets me into trouble. There are stacks and stacks of things that I would like to throw away, but I can't because they're still useful. If not to me, then to someone, somewhere. I'm practical enough to know that I won't make a quilt out of my worn out stonewashed jeans, but somebody else might. And when the need arises, I want to be there with my denim booty (the pirate kind, not the rear end kind). My frayed and faded Lees may be just the thing to fill that last square.
In addition to the fabric, there's ribbon, paper, silk flowers, pipe cleaners, and assorted glues and guns. It's not a crazy jumbled mess. Most of these things are carefully categorized and labeled. (The box with the lovely iridescent green glass I thought about making into a mosaic is clearly marked "broken vase.") Ask me for something and I can tell you right where it is. The trouble is there's just so much of it. I know I'll never get to all these projects, but I can't just abandon the raw materials to the trash heap, can I? Who would look for shards of broken glass there?
Finally, there are the things I've kept by accident. The 1998 BYU Winter Semester Course Schedule falls into this category. I found it a few days ago at the bottom of a box, the contents of which I assume were dumped directly from a drawer the last day of winter semester 1998. Corresponding, as it usually does, with other major life changes, moving always seems to take more time that I have. And inevitably, I end up just throwing things anywhere, planning (of course!) to sort it all out when I get where I'm going.
And so, my basement and my closets and my boxes and boxes of letters make it look very much like I am a packrat. But I promise you, I am NOT. And I'm going to prove it by getting rid of it all. Well, most of it. OK, a lot. So if any of you are in the market for some lovely shards of iridescent green glass, just let me know.
*Names have been changed.