The other day, we completely emptied a house. Why we had to empty that house isn’t important. It was full of my family’s old stuff and it all needed to go. Frankly, we had already cleared out most of the house. In one final session, we finished the job, having hired a skip and filled it up.
As brother sorted out the last few bits though, I stared at that skip. And all I could think of was “holy shit we had a lot of stuff.”
But were did all this stuff come from?
Honestly? No idea. My whole family consists of messy hoarders. Nowhere near the level you see on TV, of course. No, no, we are definitely not that bad. A lot of it was old business stuff, things we’d kept just in case. Business-wise though, here at least, you don’t need anything more than 10 years old. So a lot of that more-than-10-years-old stuff went in the bin.
Still, there was plenty of other stuff that needed to be thrown out. We filled that damn skip. Okay, sure, some of it was old crap that needed to be chucked. Particularly an old, rotten bench that we’d gotten a decade ago. But that skip was genuinely full once we were done with it. The worst thing was, that was the second skip we’d filled up.
However, we didn’t throw everything away…
Forgetfulness is part of it.
After we got back from clearing out the old house, we dumped about three or four boxes of stuff into our living room. A lot of it is old business stuff. We tend to keep a sample of most of the things we have made, printed or designed, to show to people later on. Of course, this all got shoved into various boxes, and we’d end up with duplicates or things getting crushed or whatever. There was plenty of forgotten non-business stuff as well. For example, I found a box of scrap fabric, leftover from our Comic Con costumes. We had intended to repurpose the leftovers into other things, but never got around to it.
There’s so much that we put somewhere and forget about it. Stuff we’d meant to go through years ago, only to dump it all in one place and have to go through it now. It’s so easy to do, especially now when we are permanently tired, and life is always dragging us down.
Sentimentality is the other half.
The bigger problem is that most of this stuff has memories attached to it. Memories that we’d most likely forgotten. The human brain can only hold so much, so sometimes it just needs reminding. Finding random stuff while clearing out a house is an amazing way to trigger said memories. Then we realize why we kept such items in the first place – because they remind us of things.
Not all those memories are good ones though. And stuff with bad memories connected to them can easily be thrown away. The problem here is less why and more when. Sometimes an object with a bad memory tied to it gets thrown to one side, rather than thrown in a bin or something. However that can’t always be helped.
Have we learned from this?
Nope. I think the family will always hoard a lot of stuff. It’s just in our nature. People are complicated things and have a lot of complicated stuff. There’s so much going on in our heads that we can’t help but stuff away real… stuff… in corners and other places.
But, on a more positive note, because we all live in our own places now, we have less stuff overall, and less space to stuff these things into. Clearing out gives you a chance to go through old stuff and old memories. But it also gives you a chance to get rid of some bad memories, and a chance to start over.
Damn good thing we did this in Spring though. Would have been awful, doing this in the hot, 40C summer sun…