I wish I was at least a little bit of a Hoarder!

I’ve been reminiscing about my undergraduate days at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. My interest was photography, but in the beginning you have to try other things, and I loved everything I tried: painting, drawing, sculpture, wood-carving, making furniture. I wish I had saved something, anything at all, but I am the opposite of a hoarder. Nothing makes me happier than paring down my possessions. But I’ve been a little too toss-happy throughout my life, alas. I wish I had one measly drawing to show for it all.

I console myself with how quickly possessions become meaningless after you die. A couple of generations and no one knows who you were. Quick! Name your great grandparents! Unless you’re the genealogist of the family you probably can’t. My paintings and drawings, had I saved them, would just end up in the garbage or in a flea-market somewhere.

But for now it would be nice for me, when I remember what a great time I had, to be able to look over at a painting, and remember the classroom, the smells, my clothes spattered with oils and turpentine, the teacher I had a crush on.

Does Finney remember the mice of his past? Actually, I know he does. Occasionally he goes over to the stove, where he last saw a mouse a couple of years ago, and he sits and waits faithfully, as if the mouse might one day return. Every cat I have ever had does this. I do not discourage them. “That’s right Finney. You wait right there. This is a good use of your time.”

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

3 thoughts on “I wish I was at least a little bit of a Hoarder!

  1. Shoot, I don’t. I have this fear of the police coming in to find my dead body and writing in their report “She lived in squalor.”

    I can name my great-grandparents and knew three of my paternal great-grandparents quite well (they all died when I was in my teens).

    However, when my mother was cleaning out her house to move into an independent living center she kept asking me if I wanted old letters, photos, etc. and was really put out when I said no. I pointed out that I’m not married and have no children and my brothers are the same so the family ends with us. It would all be trashed anyway, so why not now rather than later. I’m really not sentimental in that way.

    Finney looks so much like my Joe.

  2. Not a hoarder either, but the ONE thing I destroyed still haunts me. I tossed a novel manuscript I wrote because I was angry at the time. Stupid. To this day, I still remember certain sections of it, and nearly weep that I didn’t just put it out of sight till I was more rational. Ugh.

    My house is uncluttered, but there are certain things I cherish: mostly furniture given to me by my paternal grandparents: steamer trunks, peddle-type sewing machine (grandmother made clothes for me as a child on that thing), old dressers, etc. I hope one of my nephews will take this eventually, just as a keepsakes (since the value is not all that much).

    I knew my great-grandparents well, especially my great-grandfather. He was called, “Grand-dad” and after my great- grandmother died, he went into the nursing home and chased women there till he died. Quite a character! I was a teen when he lived briefly with my grandparents; my grandmother despised him, since he was cantankerous and sometimes just mean. Great-grandmother though was a near-saint and a German immigrant. Long story! NOT a family genealogist, just stuff I learned through experience and/or grandparents’ stories.

    However, I chose not to have children so unless my favorite nephew decides he wants my “stuff” it will probably be discarded on the roadside. So it goes….

  3. You both must have great genes if you had great grandparents who lived long enough for you to know them!

    I have a few pieces that belonged to my mother that I cherish. Nothing of my grandparents. I wasn’t around when their things were divided out, alas.

    But Cara, the novel!! I’ve never gone that far. I have a terrible novel that I wrote and saved. If anyone bothers to read it after I die they’ll be shocked that I ever got published.

    Karen, everything you said I could have said. Except I am sentimental. My sentimental side is always at war with my hate-clutter side.

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