Stuff and Nonsense?

From the ages of 17-34, I moved home at least once every 12-months and in 2001 peaked at a ridiculous six different residences in one year. I’m discounting the ‘travelling years’ when I was bed-hopping nightly – not necessarily with the saucy connotations that statement implies – more usually on an unofficial bed-share basis to keep costs as low as possible.

During those years my possessions became familiar with the newspaper/cardboard box combo and my clothes were used to existing for long periods in bin-liners; the more seasonal-specific attire sometimes going into hibernation for several years at a time depending on the amount of storage space available, length of lease and the state of my positive feelings towards the place as a potential long-term dwelling.

On reflection, there were some relocations that merited no more than a toothbrush, change of T-shirt and radio but then I do tend towards an optimistic outlook plus I never was any good at travelling light. Even during said nomadic period, my rucksack acquired its own offspring – mini bags of paper, card, pictures, cuttings, shells, stones, sticks, beer mats, match-booklets, letters, post-cards, scarves – or bits of material that could potentially be used as scarves, fliers, tickets, maps and of course clothes – in fact all the tell-tale paraphernalia that indicates a hoarder.

So is this the confession that my family has been awaiting for years? My name is Melanie and I’m a hoarder? Not bloody likely! There may have been times when I was less than ruthless with the memorabilia that adorned my life including possibly the in-class note collection from circa 1988, every birthday card from the ages 10-18 and the endless shell fragments that were collected from beaches around the world but which out of context had the look of those bags of sea-debris available from Wilko for about £1. Perhaps when making the choice in Western Australia to pack up a trunk-sized box and ship the lot back to Blighty rather than throw it away could have been a sign that my ability to pare away the detritus from my life was limited.

However, I know I’m not in the danger-zone like the documentary subjects who have piles of newspaper stacked into a maze of corridors leading to their bed, although I definitely do sympathise with their rationale. I have even done some streamlining of late, although the moment that the raggedy T-shirt from 1990 kept purely because it reminded me of a brilliant Pixies gig at Reading Festival went into the bin (I couldn’t even salve my conscience with the Charity Shop pile) was truly gut-wrenching.

The possessions I’ve been carrying around from place to place like a massively mis-shapen bin-baggy snail are things of little monetary value but they are the effects which enabled me to build an instant home no matter which carcass of a dwelling I happened to be in at the time. By having an enormous scrap-book of my life close by, I could feel a more immediate connection to friends, family and formative acquaintances that may well be many miles away.

Besides I recently read an article that said those people who surround themselves with mementos of their life are likely to show greater emotional intelligence than those who live a more minimalist existence. And there you have it – all those years spent humping bags of “crap” about with me have finally been substantiated – I’m actually an emotional freaking Einstein mum!

1 thought on “Stuff and Nonsense?

  1. Mel it is soo true we all have bits and bobs of stuff that we gather during our lives and this blog sure as he’ll sums me up too; not do much the number of residences but the travelling with mementoes rings a v v loud bell.


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