Keeper of Memories

Collect things—that’s what I do. Yard sales, garage sales, thrift shops, consignment stores—these places are where I belong. There are so many treasures out there. So many things that people just want to throw away. Valuable things! Things that could use just a little bit of love. Some things just need a little paint. Sometimes its as simple as dusting them off and giving them a good cleaning before ta-da! They look brand new! Hoarder? No. No, I wouldn’t call myself that. I’m a collector. I collect things. That’s what I do! Who says I have a problem? I can see no issue with the way I live. These things, my things, they’re my treasures. Can you not see how each one of these items needs me? How I need them? Well, just let me tell you. Let me tell you, and then you will realize that I am not a hoarder. Oh no, I’ve never been a hoarder.

Ever since I was little, I have always held on to things: paper clips, receipts, dolls, stuffed animals, shoes, clothing, books, you name it. Why, you may ask? Well you see, each and every thing has value. You may think I’m a hoarder now, but just wait. I will show you how I am not a hoarder. I will show you how each and every item I own has meaning, or, a purpose if you will. Do you see this right here? This is the very first toothbrush that I ever bought. Garbage, you say? Blasphemy! You just don’t know how to repurpose it. Now think of it like this, and I swear you will understand why I must keep it. I may not be able to use this old thing for my teeth anymore, but what about cleaning other things? I can use it to scrub my watch collection, and to get into those tiny cracks in the floor. I can also use it to polish the dirt and dust off of my shoes! What do you think of that? Oh, well now you must be wondering why I need a whole collection of old toothbrushes. That’s simple! I don’t want to use the same toothbrush to scrub my watch collection that I used on the floor or my shoes! Are you finally beginning to understand? I am a collector! A treasure hunter! I have many titles, but I can assure you that hoarder is not one of them. “Oh, but look at all this mess!” You say. What mess? I see no mess! I only see possibilities. And memories. So many memories.

Do you see this porcelain doll? Her face may be broken, and she may be missing a limb–or two–but that’s not the point! I’ve had her since I was little. She was my best friend—my only friend. She may not look like much now, but at one point she was stunning! Her hair was a rich red, her eyes a brilliant blue. Her dress wasn’t a dingy shade of mustard like it is now, but a yellow as bright as the sun itself! She was there through it all, the sadness, the tears, the angry shouts emerging from my parents’ bedroom at two in the morning, the abuse that I watched my mother go through, and the abuse that was soon turned on me after she died. She was there for me when my father locked me in the closet for misbehaving, when he forced me to use my own toothbrush to clean the entire house on my hands and knees, when he told me I was worthless, selfish, and unworthy of any love from him, and even when he blamed me for the death of my mother. So you see, it was only fair of me to be there for her when my father pulled her from my arms and threw her against the wall, when her pretty little face shattered into a million tiny pieces across the kitchen floor. I picked up every little chip and placed them all into this plastic bag because it was my turn to take care of her.

I cannot let go of anything because each item I own represents a small part of who I am. So, think of me as a keeper of memories. A collector of all things that once were. The one who brings life to the things forgotten. But never, and I mean never, call me a hoarder.

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