Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What do you hoard?

My moving company has provided me with a list of “non-allowable” items. For instance, nail polish is listed under “Hazardous Materials” and may not be shipped. (Farewell, OPI.) Don’t even think about packing fireworks, even if they were “Buy 1, Get 4 Free.” You also have to leave behind chemistry sets, weed killer and household batteries.

Kiss all those half-empty (half-full?) bottles of salad dressing good-bye as well. “Perishables/Personal/Sentimental” items are no-nos. This intriguing category includes produce, checkbooks, wedding photos, car keys, plants, laptops and cash. Oh, and frozen food.

The latter restriction once led to my storing the top of a friend’s wedding cake in my freezer when she moved. She also asked me to keep a container of frozen soup. Her father had made the soup. He was no longer living and the soup was beyond old, but she could not bring herself to throw away the container. I made room in my freezer for almost a year, and then drove her frozen foods – tucked in a cooler, of course -- to her new home.

I helped this same friend pack for her move. Her husband had already left for his new job in their new town. One child, now grown, was out on her own. The other two often were busy with friends and summer jobs. Besides, my friend was eager to sift and sort, and not simply box up everything and cart it off into the sunset.

Or so she said.

I promised not to reveal her name here, but I am going to tell what she hoarded. One afternoon, I was put in charge of packing the contents of a large metal cabinet. The cabinet, she told me, held "art supplies." This cabinet was filled with scraps of construction paper, colored pencils (nubs as well as full length) in every shade and crayons – hundreds, maybe thousands, of used crayons.

“Why do you have 963 crayons?” I asked. (I made up that number, but it wasn't far off the mark.)

“We bought each child a new box at the start of every school year,” she called out from the kitchen, where she was packing utensils, baskets and kitchen towels, all past their prime.

“That was very generous of you,” I said. “But two of your kids are in college and one has graduated. Surely you don't want to keep this stuff. Every last crayon has been used. Some are broken, and many have lost their wrappers. I’ll just toss them all.”

Silence from the kitchen. Then: “No. Let’s not throw them out. You never know…”

Ah, yes. You never know. That sentence will effectively plug up any sifting and sorting operation, and the next thing you do know, you’ll be looking for a spot in your new home to store 963 used crayons. That’s exactly what happened.

My friend is not alone in her hoarding behavior. I hoard beauty products. When I learned that Sally Hansen’s “Radiant Hands, Nails & Cuticles Crème” was being taken off the market, I bought eight tubes on line. The previous year, I had scooped every last tube of the hard-to-find Glysomed Hand Cream off a grocery shelf. (Do let me know if you are in need of any good hand cream.)

One friend hoards hair products. When she learned that her favorite would no longer be available, she bought a good-sized stash. However, she soon found she was reluctant to use any of it.

“If I used it, soon I would be down the last tube and then there would never be any more,” she said. Over time, she experimented with half a dozen new hair products. When she found one she liked even better than her old favorite, she raced out and bought a dozen, just in case the item might be discontinued in the future.

You never know...

What do you hoard?

More to the point: If you move, can you take it with you?

1 comment:

  1. he he he....

    I recently was helping my mom clean out her basement. There was a picture. A second grade picture. Created with second grade hand, for mygramma. She had lovingly framed it in whatever we had before Gladwrap, and edged it in tinfoil. Kitchen basics and love can deter the process of erosion for many years.

    That picture hung in gramma's kitchen for as long as she had that kitchen. Then ended up in my mom's pile of things unable to be thrown away.

    "Mom, what are on earth are you doing with THIS?"
    "Well, honey, it was yours and I just did not want to throw it out."

    Actually, it was not mine. It never was. My second grade hands made it for someone I loved. And she loved it dearly. Gift given and received. What remained was simply a footprint, like finding a butterfly that had been trapped for years between the pages of a book.

    The construction paper and tin foil can be thrown away. The Gift, well, that only ever existed in the moments of connection between souls.