Via Shakesville, this.
I come from a family of pack rats and I’m married to one, but fight the urge regularly. We have a relatively small place, and I’m claustrophobic. That, combined with my inability to work at all when things are a mess, contributes to twice-yearly epic cleanouts of shit that ends up at the Salvation Army or on Craigslist. When I quit my job two years ago, we got rid of almost all our CDs and a lot of books, too, which was harder that just chucking out holey socks and broken furniture. You never know when you’re going to go looking for a song or phrase and not be able to find it. Still, it was a storage issue. You can only build so many shelves.
During the horrific 2007 Summer of Suck when both Mr. A and I were unemployed, I came up with a plan that involved selling all our shit and our place and taking whatever meager proceeds that left us with and moving to Europe to live for a year or so while, like, herding sheep or something. It was the sort of thing that made perfect sense to me in my “fuck it, let’s just burn it all in a big pile in the street if the universe is going to treat us like this” state of mind; luckily or unluckily, Mr. A thought that was just about the stupidest idea I’d ever had.
(And I come up with some doozies on a weekly basis; my other plan was to jump on board the Tall Ships when they come into the harbor in Chicago and become crew, like a claustrophobe with no practical skills and someone who gets seasick doing dishes should live on a 19th century sailing ship.)
Those plans, though, weren’t about creating simplicity as much as they were about running away. I think if I had a big place I’d revert to a hoarding state; it’s ingrained that collections of things equal security. We look at open houses every once in a while and I think to myself, “If we bought that house (if we could afford that house) that would be the house I would die in. I would line it with books and unwrap all the old china I bought in thrift stores and we would never, ever be able to pack it all up again.” So maybe it’s a defense mechanism, living somewhere with tiny closets.