I love getting rid of stuff. It began when I was six. All of a sudden one day I had an epiphany that I had too much junk. I had too many knick knacks. My eraser collection was getting OUT OF CONTROL; most of the erasers were covered in pencil marks and had lost the faintly fake fruit odor that had initially inspired me to begin the collection anyway. (Emily: mmmmm…. I remember that smell!) I pulled out my trash can and just started dumping stuff. It really gave me a high, but I guess that could have been because of the erasers. When I was finished, I had at least 12 square inches of empty space to begin filling with a new collection. The opportunities were endless. I guess it gave me a sense of control in my chaotic, youthful life. Maybe my parents weren’t giving me enough freedom, or maybe I was getting stressed out about my entry to the competitive world of elementary school, whatever the reason, it made me happy. And I’ve never stopped. I live in cycles of collecting and purging, and I proselytize the freeing effects to any hoarders I meet.
When I was 16, I experienced the nirvana of collecting/purging. I travelled to North Carolina to help move my grandparents into an assisted living facility. It was hoarder heaven. (Emily: my grandpa too. Took my mom and aunt a week to clean out his house!) My grandparents lived through the depression, a devastation which I believe justifies hoarding in anyone over 80. (Emily: agreed) They had freezers full of food, and too much furniture, plenty of normal hoarder ephemera; but they also had a box full of three sons’ shoes spanning at least 30 years of shoe purchases, and another box full of my great-grandmother’s underwear. I suffered a major conflict, should I collect or purge? Ultimately, I collected, and continue to cope with the consequences.
Purging still makes me happy, really happy. I do it when I’m bored, or sad, or feeling perfectly satisfied with my life. It frees up space for more collections. Empty space makes me more creative. It’s a way for me to assert control in a world that is spinning off its axis. (Emily: excellent point) I guess Einstein said something about an empty desk equaling an empty mind. He was probably just mad because people were making fun of how messy he was. (Emily: can’t argue with one of the smartest men in the world!)