I am a hoarder. I come from hoarders, I married a hoarder and together we have bred a tiny hoarder.
Over the years, H and I have accumulated a lot of stuff. We live in an area that provides council collection of unwanted goods every fortnight, so every fortnight there is both an opportunity to purge our household of broken or unwanted goods, but also the chance to re-home our neighbours’ crap, which we do frequently. Some of my favourite possessions came from a place we like to call Cider Road.
Two red wooden children’s chairs, while slightly rickety and with a dangerously high centre of gravity, were great finds from four doors down. A bundt tin, which has absolutely nothing wrong with it, came out of my old upstairs neighbour’s recycling bin ten years ago. I have made many excellent cakes in it, mostly from Orangette’s pleasingly alliterative recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Buckwheat Bundt Cake. Our hall stand was from the end of the block, and although it doesn’t quite fit in this house, needs some work and is borderline hideous, we’re hanging onto it for our One Day House.
We snagged our pair of coffee tables from a few streets away, and they have served us brilliantly for several years. They are very nice, and the fact that it was two days before clean-up night made us slightly concerned that they weren’t out for the council pick-up at all, but that their owners were in the process of moving them in or out of their own home. Not concerned enough not to nab them though. If you leave your coffee tables on the nature strip unattended for long enough for me to circle the block in my car and come back for them, they are fair game, I say.
But those things aside, the stuff that has been cluttering up our house is not all great stuff. H and I both battle the tendency to keep things for sentimental reasons. Clothes that are thoroughly worn out but that remind us of a particular time in our lives were jamming up our closets to the extent that we couldn’t find anything we did like, so we’d buy more clothes and compound the problem.
So this weekend we had a massive closet clean-out. Unless we currently wear it, fit into it and like it, everything got chucked. We were both ruthless. More ruthless than we’ve ever managed to be with past cleanouts. Previously we just had The Gross Rule, which is this: if the first adjective you or your partner uses to describe something you own is ‘gross’, it goes out. This came about early in our relationship when H asked me if I had seen a jacket of his. ‘Which one?’ I asked. ‘That gross green one,’ he said. Boom. Right there. If you think it’s gross, bin the thing. We’ve been pretty good at sticking to that rule ever since.
Yesterday we added the delicate issue of clothing size to the chucking-out equation. Having been wedding skinny, post-wedding plump, pregnant and massive, postnatal and slowly deflating, and now back to the new normal, all in the last three years, I have clothes in several different sizes. So I got off pretty lightly as far as discarding non-fitting clothes went. I am allowed to keep lots of too big or too small clothes in storage tubs, in case I have another baby or develop a hot chip addiction.
H, on the other hand, has not been pregnant. He has suffered the postnatal lack of exercise that affects many new dads, though, and has a few t-shirts that have ‘shrunk in the wash’ to prove it. When he tried on a couple of shirts yesterday – admittedly only shirts he has had since he was about eighteen years old – they looked a little more cling-wrappy than he ideally wanted. When he asked my opinion of one, I said I thought his muscly chest was too big for it. He has asked me always to give that answer in future whenever something is too small. Will do.
The final assault was on my shoes. I culled the worn out, the ill-fitting and the ugliest of them. I’ve been left with the mumsiest shoe collection since the first cavewoman wrapped a bit of mammoth skin around her feet and sighed, ‘Ooh, these are great. They feel like slippers.’ I’ve now got moccasins, ballet flats, sneakers, saltwater sandals, flat boots and a pair of insane yellow orthapedic clogs I bought when I was forty-one weeks pregnant. They feel like I am wearing ghetto blasters on my feet. I’m keeping them as a reminder not to shop when I can’t see my feet.
But tucked away in a box are a pair of grey suede heels and my towering gold wedding shoes. The grey shoes are for the future, when one day I might go out in the evening, with my husband, wearing a dress from which I cannot easily remove my boobs (how funny – that’s the opposite of how I liked to dress for evenings out before I had a baby and my bare breasts became a constant and unappealing fixture in the lives and eyelines of my friends and family ). The gold shoes are to remember the day I married H, and running around on the lawn at my parents’s country house drinking champagne with everyone I love. They are to remind me of kicking the shoes off to clamber onto the jumping castle in my wedding gown; and to remind me that a little bit of hoarding is a good thing.
When you are the (headless) bride you cannot possibly put on your own shoes. Photo by Tanya Lake, dodgy cropping my me.