Displaced Stay At Home Californian in rural N. Carolina

The Many Faces of Joy

The Many Faces of Joy

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I was raised by hoarders. Not the kind of hoarders you see on that TLC show that have to live in a tent in the backyard because their house is packed to the ceiling with new clothes they have never worn, pipe cleaners and Christmas wrapping that was on sale. But rather the kind that bought 103 cans of vegemeat from the Chinese market because it was only 89cents a can instead of the regular $1.39. By the way, once the cans were purchased, they were put under the house in the crawlspace and forgotten until two years later when I would visit and the question would be put to me, "Hey, you want take home some vegemeat?" We would then make our way down to the crawlspace only to find out that the cans had buckled and become rusty and a couple had exploded.

When we were kids we lived in Jamaica for 4 years. We had never seen stores that had empty shelves or lived anywhere that rationed bags of rice or blocks of cheese. My grandmother would place us in the line at different points so we could get 2, 3 and even 4 bags of rice instead of just one. Because the general population in Jamaica is a different ethnicity than we are - it didn't take long for the person handing out the rice or the cheese to get wise to us and tell us to get out of the line for good or else he would "box our ears".

Then my Mom married a guy who was the king of hoarders, at least an arch-duke of some kind. He tells the story of telling his mother they were short on peanut butter when he was a kid and being the kind of kid that just had to have his peanut butter he worried that they would run out. The way he tells the story I get the feeling that his mother was not the kind that you see in Norman Rockwell paintings or the kind that would concern herself with the shortage of peanut butter. Anyway - he ran out and then had to wait something like 2 weeks to get more because everytime he would ask about it she would bark at him or ignore him. So you can imagine the gigantic Cost-co sized cans of peanut butter that he had stashed in these wall lockers that were under lock and key.

Once in awhile when I go to the grocery store (the one that shall remain nameless) I will see a really great deal like big bags of raisins for $2.99 or 24 packs of toilet paper for $4.99 and I will put two or three in my cart only to find myself wheeling the cart back there in 10 minutes or so to put them back with their friends. I once bought 4 bags of lentils at $69 cents a pound and was so embarrased that we had to eat lentils for a month straight until they were gone. I refuse to become a hoarder. And while I pride myself on not being one and on only buying the things we need for the next week or the next two weeks, I fight the urge all the time.

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