Decades ago I moved to Colorado from Boston in an old Toyota Corolla filled with all my worldly belongings. Riding shotgun were my two goldfish, their bowl sloshing water the entire journey. Now when my husband and I go away for a long weekend we can barely fit everything we want to take in my small vehicle. And when we buy a new house we have to hire movers with a ginormous truck. What the heck happened?
If there’s one thing quarantining at home has made abundantly clear, it’s that my husband and I have way too much stuff. Instead of things feeling like cherished items, a lot of them just feel like they’re weighing us down. This got me thinking: How do we all get so much stuff in our homes? After much thought, I’ve figured it all out:
The first step into massive stuff-hood starts when you buy your first property. Once you are a homeowner in a permanent place, things occur. It’s like there is a magnetic-like force in your place, constantly sucking new items towards it. And this force never, ever loses its power. It will forever be absorbing new things without your even being quite aware.
Supposedly for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case, that would mean for every item that comes into your home, another would depart it. Unfortunately this principle does not apply here. No, like layers of sediment forming geological wonders, there just gets to be a slow build-up of stuff-ness until suddenly you have your own figurative stalagmites.
Related to this there is the “home to stuff ratio.” In short: The bigger your home is, the more items that will magically appear to fill it. Granted, this takes time. But it is another law of stuff-age related to the above noted force: Apparently the bigger your home, the stronger the magnetic-like pull.
This force is made even greater with the addition of pets, partners, children and/or parents, with kids having the biggest impact. Not only are huge numbers of products required at every stage of a child’s life, but every scrap of art and schoolwork said child creates must be cherished, kept and stored for reflection upon some important future date which never arrives. Favorite books and toys and clothes and instruments and sporting equipment must also be stored, again for some future use that never seems to actually materialize. Nonetheless, the shrine to childhood must be maintained in order to avoid hurt feelings and years of future expensive therapy.
Then there are the things we inherit from people. These items are attached to us with golden handcuffs. You may not like the items – you may actually detest and loathe them – but you will keep them because you loved the now-deceased person. What a lovely parting gift: unwanted ugly items mixed with constant simmering resentment.
Add to all this our own weird, little acquiring peculiarities. For instance, as I previously confessed in this column, I have a little linen problem. Luckily I’ve kicked most of this addictive behavior, though my decorative pillow problem occasionally flares up during season changes. My husband, the son of a hoarder, has luckily turned from a man who I could not allow to go to a McGuckin’s tent sale unsupervised to a born-again Marie Kondo apostle. Hallelujah!
Now that I’ve identified the problem, I’m trying hard to work against the magnetic-like force of our home and reduce our stuff-age. And yet packages just keep showing up on our front porch. So very, very vexing.