>Fending Off the Hoard

>A couple weeks ago the neighbors on one side of us apparently got the heave-ho courtesy of their landlords. In a stressful couple days there were sheriff cruisers out front, strange cars, and then moving vans. You would have thought that it all happened at the last minute, given how one day we’re chatting out at the driveway and two days later all hell was broken loose, but who knows how these things go. They were nice people, with two kids, and great neighbors. I don’t know what the falling out was, and I’m sure the truth was somewhere in the orbit of what the guy told me had gone down, but that doesn’t matter. Bottom line is they were unprepared for the move and were in a state of serious freaking out. We ended up keeping three cats and three rats at our house for a couple days, and after that a refrigerator and some outside toys in our garage for another day. All’s well that ends well, and they are settled somewhere new now. I just hope the new neighbors aren’t assholes.

What struck me is just how much shit they had. Boxes and boxes. A couple pickup truckloads, a small U-Haul’s-worth, and at least two trips with a big U-Haul. It was staggering to see all that stuff just rolling out of that little house, trip after trip, load after load. Besides my reflections on how many unfortunate people are in those straights — losing jobs, losing their homes, etc. — it also made me think of my own accumulated stuff, and how out of hand it’s gotten. That stresses me out. Probably more than anything else, to be honest with you.

I don’t have much attachment to things. If my house burned down, as long as my pets and family got out okay, I don’t think I’d be that devastated. Yeah, I love my books and my music and all that, but none of that is irreplaceable. I could just make a side trip through my office and grab my external hard drive thing and I’d have all my music anyway, in a space the size of a small hardback book. There’s even a window I could dive to safety out of. I’ve also picked up some prints and things over the last couple years that I really like, but again — I could live without them. In my heart of hearts, I would prefer to be a guy who could literally throw everything he owns into a fancy leather satchel and maybe one of those big army duffel bags and be on his way, foot loose and fancy free, you know? Or, worse case, maybe fit everything I own into the back of my truck. That, to me, would be perfect.

Reality is a long way from that. Hell, there is enough music gear out in the garage to more than fill my truck. We may only have three people in the house, but among us are two full drum sets, more bass gear than I really need (there is a price to be paid for awesome volume and building-shaking power), a Marshall half-stack, a 2×12 combo amp, another 4×12 cabinet, some PA gear, etc. I do pretty well keeping my books culled, but there are still way more than any person really needs on hand. Same with CDs and records. Personal junk I’ve saved over the years amounts to three or four plastic crates in my closet. Then there’s furniture, clothes (I could slip in a joke about Julia’s bursting closet full of clothes and shoes, because that is the passion that most tweaks her hoarding proclivities, but I have far too much of that stuff too), and all the other houseware shit people accumulate. I should say, all the shit Americans accumulate. It’s too damn much.

In the last ten years or so I’ve moved a bunch of times. A couple included cross-country trips (the last one I made, everything I owned pretty much did fit in the back of my truck). One was only a matter of a few blocks. Every one of them sucked. The last big move was when I went down to Tucson and moved Julia and her stuff (including 3 friggin’ dogs, two of which slept on the dashboard most of the way) up to Missoula. That was one big rental truck with a car on a trailer behind it. It was a huge move, but at least the drive was beautiful. That was something like four years ago, and I’m pretty sure there are still a few boxes in the garage that have never been officially unpacked. Just stuff we all save because we don’t want to throw it all out. Hell, I’ve been packing two crates full of old Dungeons and Dragons stuff around for 20+ years. What the hell use will I ever have for that?

Thing is we hope to be moving again here in the next two-to-three years, into a much smaller place. We aren’t the Collyer Brothers, by any stretch, but it still means a lot of the stuff we have now is going to have to go between now and then. That’s something I look forward to having taken care of. It may not get down to just a satchel and a bag, but it will be as close as possible, believe me!

6 thoughts on “>Fending Off the Hoard

  1. jhwygirl

    >"affluenza" Ha.You stressed me out with this one. A whole bunch of the exact same thoughts have been running through my mind, too, mainly because there is a hope on my part of actually purchasing something to live in. I look at what I have – I mean, just the mud room and kitchen alone is enough to send me into a panic. I recently start taking boxes and just putting random stuff out front. It's always taken. Somewhere. That's the cool thing about Missoula – you can put out a couch, a chair, a box of books or a box of random glassware – someone will grab it up.

  2. Chris

    >Yeah, we have set some things out on the street more than once that have been picked up. Of course, that included a freakin' CAR that we didn't intend for someone to take, but they did anyway.I called the library about donations, and it looks like they will get the books The Book Exchange doesn't want.

  3. Nikki Valiant

    >I'm fascinated with tiny homes. I love the idea of the freedom that comes with few belongings, but then remember that I'm a pack rat by nature. It is one of my less favorite aspects of myself. I own way too much stuff, and feel an emotional bond with much of it. That's weird. But if you want smaller, it doesn't get much smaller than this…http://tinyhouseblog.com/

  4. Chris

    >Lori, I can totally hook you up with some books!Nikki, I LOVE that tiny house blog. My friend April, who also comments here from time to time, built a tiny house in Idaho and was even featured on that site.http://tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/tiny-house-in-idaho/I tend to accumulate too much stuff myself; it's a constant battle. Our "dream" house will be about 1000 sq ft, with maybe another little 400 sq ft studio building (which he hope to build no later than next summer). Not tiny, but with our pack of dogs and all the projects we constantly have going, probably about as small as we could get.

  5. April

    >Mmmmhmmm. We have a tiny house (really, in an effort to simplify), but yet there are BOXES upon BOXES of shit we have in storage. The plan being that once the house is finished (who knows when that will be at this rate), we will find a place for everything we NEED and burn (well, donate) the rest. But, yeah. Things pile up. And it's hard to let go sometimes.


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