You guys are making me nervous.
No, not you guys who’ve wished me well on my upcoming move to the Northwest. Not you guys who’ve given much-appreciated advice on pellet stoves and wood stoves. Not you guys (this means you, Jake MacGregor) who’ve even offered unloading assistance, hammer swinging, or spare furniture. Not you who’ve commiserated about fatal rattlesnakes, near-fatal winds, and death-defying doggies. Not you who’ve offered tips on cool NW bookstores and other places to go. You … I thank you all.
But you guys (and wimmins) — you know who you are — you who’ve warned me that the mere possession of a house with rooms (and especially an attic and a basement) could lead me to suffer the fate of the Collyer brothers, dying of accumulation — you make me nervous.
I tell myself, No, I’m not a hoarder. Anything but. I’m somebody who has shed possessions happily and moved on. So when the first warning came — from Oliver, the webmaster of this very website — I laughed it off. After all, I’m no Oliver, a man who lives in a giant old house and will probably stay there forever.
I’ve been a gypsy without inclination for so much baggage.
I didn’t really begin to worry until someone named John left this truly ominous comment at the end of one of my blog posts. Said John:
I moved from a fifth wheel to a house in 1999, it was a good change.
Stuff has followed me in the door a couple things at a time and the place has just filled up. Beware, “stuff” multiplies when you are sleeping.
Now, as I finish boxing up all the things that are to go into the U-Haul trailer tomorrow, I begin to wonder. Stuff sneaks in and breeds when you are sleeping …?
I’m moving from a fifth-wheel. And before that I moved from a one-room house. Yet … there’s stuff all over the place. Stuff in every cranny, every drawer, every shelf of the pantry. It’s in the barn. In the workshop. In the power shed. It overwhelms every box that neighbor Joel and I dumpster-dived from behind the supermarket or scrounged from the saw shop.
I note as I vainly attempt to keep ahead of the ever-emerging stuff that most of it falls into two categories. The biggest category by far: Tools. Shop tools, art tools, jewelry-making tools, cooking tools, firearms and ammo, and all kinds of other tools. And related materials. The second killer category is food. Well, ya gotta be prepared, don’tcha?
I own only three pieces of furniture — and pieces is the operative term, as all three break down into small bits for easy transport.
So even though I possess all this stuff — this clearly multiplying stuff — I can still tell myself I won’t fall prey to the sort of stuff-collecting that fills homes with tottering heaps of 50-year-old Life magazines and giant balls of string or aluminum foil — let alone 14 assorted pianos and the chassis of a Model-T Ford. After all, my stuff is all very practical. Useful. And none of it was impulsively acquired or is compulsively kept.
Of course, there is that marvelous occasional table in the form of a glass circle resting on the heads of three giant brass geese (“like pink flamingos, only with class,” as Joel aptly described it). Which I bought just last weekend. Even as I had doubts about fitting everything into the trailer.
But well … anyone could see that that was an absolute must-have purchase. After all, my new house needs furnishings. And any devotee of estate sales would have realized in an instant — and totally understood! — that one simply doesn’t pass up an item like that. I mean, how many other opportunities will I have to buy three larger-than-lifesize geese with a tabletop on their craniums? Very few — as any reasonable person must acknowledge.
No, forget what I said about you making me nervous. You’re all completely wrong. Obviously, outrageously wrong. I’m in no danger of stuff accumulating around me, awake or asleep. I am ever vigilant against the gathering of things for the sake of things.
To the simple life — forever!