Updated: Apr 14
Or is it vice versa? What is one person's treasure is another's trash. The prompt for SSOA emerging writers this week could range from stamp collecting to front yards filled with rubbish.
Hoarding is an illness which cannot be controlled. We need to recognize this and be tolerant. People with obsessions for certain shoes, cars, pottery, are all hoarders in their own way.
There is one hoarder in my family and his habit involves particular toys which, luckily, are not expensive or flammable. I am the only one who will occasionally store the overflow for him. As a result we get along just fine, even though he has revealed that he’s leaving his collection to me.
If everything was kept in its place and not strewn through all of Justine's rooms, her home would probably be as amazing as her mother's, because she has great taste like her mother and more money to indulge it. On entering Justine's house, guests just cringe at all the stuff overflowing through the place. It's like an obstacle course; the carpets are practically invisible.
It's a dark contrast compared with walking into her mother's house, which shows her as meticulous at cleaning and arranging. Visitors are delighted by the grandeur of her home.
I guess the only difference in their shared condition is that Justine's hoarding causes her shame while her mother's is a source of pride and joy to her. As a result, some call Justine 'a hoarder' and her mother 'a collector'.
If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers, we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats, we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.
Former Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson
A white Allcare Assisted Living van turned into Stringybark Close and parked at the far end of the peaceful cul-de-sac outside house No. 12. Jeanette peered across the top of the steering wheel at the petite white weatherboard cottage. She was unsure of what to expect as she had been warned that Mr Nicholls was a hoarder, so was surprised to see a tidy front yard with a manicured lawn, and roses that had been meticulously pruned.
Jeanette got out of the van, walked up the driveway, stepped up onto the porch and knocked on the door.
‘It’s Jeanette from Allcare, Mr Nicholls,’ she said in a raised voice.
A key turned in the lock from the inside, and slowly the door was swung open by a wizened old man with a long, bushy grey beard. He was wearing horn-rimmed glasses and a black beret.
‘I hope they told you I'm a hoarder,’ he said.
‘So I hear. Don't mind me, Mr Nicholls. I've seen it all in my time. I'm here to help you with the cleaning.’
‘Come in,’ he said, and stepped aside.
Jeanette walked through the open door and gasped. The house had no curtains or blinds, the bare floorboards were devoid of floor coverings, and there was no furniture except for a solitary chair beside the fireplace.
‘Exactly what do you hoard, Mr Nicholls? There's nothing in here.’
Mr Nicholls waved his hand in the air.
‘My memories. I hoard memories. Can't you see them? They're scattered all over this house. I can’t bear to let go of any of them, and they’re all jumbled up. I’m unable to get them in any semblance of order, so they make me confused.’
Jeanette looked puzzled. ‘You say hoarding, Mr Nicholls, I say collecting. Perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective.’
Mr Nicholls smiled.
‘You’re right. I hoard, but I also have a vast collection.’
‘What do you collect, Mr Nicholls?’ Jeanette asked, looking in vain around the empty room for anything that seemed remotely collectable.
‘Dreams, Jeanette. Every single one has its place in my head and now I have a complete set.’
Jeanette looked Mr Nicholls in the eye. ‘Mr Nicholls, why don’t you turn some of those dreams into reality?’
‘Why would I do that? Old people hoard memories, but those who collect dreams remain youthful.’
This Sydney School of Arts & Humanities' blog showcases the work of emerging writers. Our writers' meetups will resume via Zoom in the first week of February.
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Copyright: text - authors cited above; photos - Wix & mfsprout.