It sounds crazy, but I really hope my house burns down.
I honestly believe that if I lost all of my worldly possessions in a fire, I would be able to escape this house, the clutter and particular memories these boxes of crap represent. I half expect the producers of the show Hoarders to knock on my door any day now…And I will gratefully invite them in if they do, as long as they have Dr. Phil in tow….
I want to think that all the junk — I mean every last shred of it — speaks to my history, my youth, my willingness to “Risk It All” and live without self-doubt or denial. But I know in my heart it doesn’t.
Now, I want to purge this house of all that doesn’t belong, even if that means ME as an item destined for the dump, or a rainy day yard sale:
“…$48 for one used husband and father of three; die-hard Canucks fan doesn’t eat much; can cook like a chef and drink like a sailor…Loves candlelight dinners, long walks on the beach, because he can’t afford his Hydro bill, or anything else for that matter…”
How did I collect so much crap? Why do I continue to move it with me wherever I go? This cannot be purely my fault, can it? I try to purge, but something always stops me from packing the bags and boxes into the back of the Volvo wagon and being done with them once and for all.
For example: there’s a pile of stuffed animals I’ve repeatedly asked my kids to rummage through and choose a couple each to keep — At 8 and 10 years old, they shouldn’t really need stuffies anyway. They inevitably sift through the pile and find old favorites, and spend an entire hour endowing each one with voices, personalities and past histories. Some sit at a table, like a three dimensional still life picture, awaiting the tea and milk and cookies to arrive. I am torn as I watch this pre-tween psuedo-passion play unfold, as I want to cull all of them, including my daughter’s first dress-up baby doll that has a lazy eye.
I have a pair of skis, but I don’t ski. I have vinyl records but no turntable on which to play them — and according to my wife on perusing the selection, she thinks I liked the band Devo way too much. I have a harmonica that doesn’t work. I have AC/DC tour shirts I bought in my teens and university textbooks from classes I never even took. I have letters from ex-girlfriends and letters of recommendation for jobs I can’t really do from people who probably didn’t like me anyway. Somewhere in a box is a baggie that contains actual shavings of the first beard I ever grew.
I have high school track meet ribbons, and a Special Olympics bowling trophy won by my sister, Wendy. I have keys to cars, apartments and deadbolt locks that represent my life before now — and vague recollections of those locks they opened, and even who I was back then. Was my hair ever really that long? Did I really never call her again? I didn’t have the heart tell the guy that bought my Honda Civic that I used to LIVE in it for a summer when I sold it to him.
In my head, I dream that I hear the BEEP BEEP BEEP of the alarm, and have the time to gather my family in the dead of an August night safely in the yard. We would be clasped in a meaningful familial moment as sirens erupt around us, staring at the magnificent inferno as flames throw embers at the stars. Each plume of smoke would contain memories of Sunday dinners, pet gerbils, lost baby teeth, bedtime stories, birthday parties as well as lovesick poetry, unresolved arguments, the kisses forgotten past to present, and testaments of the early truth of my person — only to have those ashes scattered by a warm summer wind and land indiscriminately in the yards of other people’s homes while they are sound asleep.
So, I mean it: I wish for those flames to come, to consume every memento I have. That way, I wouldn’t have to think about what to keep, what to sell, and what to give away. I cannot seem to take that step, which is why I hope an electrical outlet sparks onto a set of old drapes, in turn igniting the couch, the ceiling and walls and my past life, as I know it.
“gotta match?” lazlo photo @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.