It’s difficult to figure out when to hold onto something– a receipt, a job, an ideal, people– and when to let go. I am related to a hoarder (I can’t watch those shows!), and so I think perhaps I’ve got this propensity to want to hang on to stuff because of the way it once made me feel– perhaps a little more than other people normally do. Or I could also point out that I’m a Taurus of the most stubborn order, and to change course is not the easiest task. I am awfully sure that most people do not realize how stubborn I am, because I am also nice and try to be considerate. But have you ever read Ferdinand the Bull? I rest my case.
I tend to collect things. Besides books. Books don’t count. I’ve been collecting teapots, egg cups and tea cups for a while. I used to collect tins, too, but that has tapered off. They’re quite useful for storing tiny things, though, so I haven’t felt the urge to purge them– and this brings up my reaction to my possibly inherited and bullish tendencies.
When I purge, I do it well. I might not reach any minimalist pinnacles of achievement housewide, but I will go through a drawer or a table or a bookcase and make brutal judgements (biblical!). Sometimes I regret my decisions (“Where’s that sweater with the– Oh. Crap.”) but most of the time the thing is not missed. I’ve even done this with people. A certain ex-boyfriend comes to mind. I hung in there, I really did, and then I cut him off and didn’t look back.
Indecision is a big part of why I hang on, and I do have this in common with hoarders, apparently. That doesn’t look like the most reliable study ever, but I think their conclusion is apt. Knowing a hoarder, as I do, I can attest that this is a huge problem, even if it is only one of a menu of problems. Really, what goes into creating a hoarder looks like one of those great big menu boards at a pho shop. If it were really just indecisiveness, we could just drug them and chill them out and make them more agreeable while we ask, “Can I throw out this collection of empty yogurt containers you have been accumulating for five years?” and then Bob would be your uncle. It’s not that simple.
For years I have been holding onto the idea of what I would be when I grew up, like a highly flammable collection of paper grocery bags stuffed between the gas stove and the wall. And now I actually have grown up, and I am not that thing I wanted to be, and hanging on to this idea is detrimental to my attempting to be a functional adult. After several years, I have finally seen the light– enough to know that, “Hey! Paper bags should not be stuffed behind a stove!” and, “Hey! This isn’t working!” I need to try something else.
I’m not doing something superdrastic, like giving up writing or leaving my husband. I’m not even leaving town. I’m simply moving sideways– instead of teaching at a college, I’m going to get a little bit re-educated and teach K-12 instead. It’s not the biggest change in the world– but it feels like it is, because I have had this goal for much longer than I’ve known my husband. I feel like I’m breaking up with a part of myself.
This semester will be a slow-motion purge, as it is the last class I will teach at this particular school. I want it to be the best one, too, so that I can remind myself that I do this job well. I want to have good memories of it and this place. And because I can, I’m going to focus more on the creative aspect of writing this semester. Students had fun with it in previous semesters, so why not go all out with it this semester? Why the hell not?
In other news, today I am going to make this cake for my husband’s birthday today: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/06/almond-cake-recipe/ but with a ganache glaze. I’d put a ganache glaze on everything if I could. Actually, I could.
In yet other news, I have rediscovered this album, and I am in love with it all over again.