Have you ever been to an estate sale? Have you noticed how much stuff, if not to say clutter in some of these homes has accumulated over a lifetime? Now everything is for sale, even rolling pins without handles and boxes filled with rusty nails, old manuals and shot glasses from travel destinations. And everything adds to somebody else’s stuff to be discarded and travel on in the same fashion.
Descending from war refugees who lost pretty much everything except their skills and their memories, most people might think I must have become a hoarder. To recompense the losses of my family’s past. Well, I haven’t. In fact, I prefer to travel lightly. The less you possess, the less you have to lose. And believe me, I still have plenty enough to go through my things and purge on a regular basis.
What I won’t leave behind for anybody to discard, once I’m gone, are certainly collections. For the simple reason that I don’t believe in them. Their value is mostly speculation. Have you ever watched “Pawn Stars”? How often do you see people enter with what they deem valuables only to be sent off with the knowledge that they are not and that they are not even collectibles? So much in a nutshell.
I used to collect stamps when I was a little kid. It was mostly to have some special time with my father, who was collecting stamps back in the day. How much fun to look at the motives, to separate the stamps from the envelopes, to look up their value and their date of origin in a catalog, and then to place them carefully into a stamp album! Times grew busier. I lost interest in the tiny paper bits – because that was what they had become to me. And in the end, I know that I never owned those priceless stamps that would have made me a fortune in selling the albums. In short, I owned clutter. It might still float around somewhere back in Germany.
Collections are usually a very personal thing. They come with an interest in a specific material, motif, or hobby. A little while ago, I was at an estate sale where an entire garage wall was filled with model fire engines, floor to ceiling. It was late on a Sunday afternoon, and they still weren’t sold. You get my drift – this was such a special collection that nobody even wanted it. Or, at antique stores, I see the piles of silver spoons engraved with names and landmarks. They must have cost quite a penny back in the day – now their price is just the metal value. At least that. But apart from laying in a silver stock, the memories once connected to the spoons are lost and meaningless.
When I left Germany, I left behind and gave away thousands of books, most of my furniture, some of my wardrobe. I took with me the artifacts I had bought over the years. They are few, and I hope they will sell at one time. They are neither that extraordinary that nobody could relate nor that plentiful that they’d fill another person’s home to overflow. In the end, they are all compostable.
What I really collect are special cookbooks, photos, and memories.
The cookbooks support my endless joy in experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. They almost all have photos with each recipe, or they are old and filled with family memories.
My photo prints and digital photos support the memories I make, and thanks to computers and back-up devices, they don’t take up much space. Unfortunately, my photo albums do.
As to the memories – you know how I love to explore with my husband or on my own. And the best about them is that nobody can steal them from me, as they are literally immaterial.
When the weather outside is uninviting, purging is an easy task to pursue. A few old vinyl records are my latest purging success. I don’t think they will ever be valuable. Unless somebody really collects old 80s one-album wonders. They came by the dozen then and most of their names are forgotten as is their music. Perhaps my clutter will be somebody else’s treasure one day. I don’t expect it. And that’s why I don’t collect stuff.