Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Moving While Hoarding: the challenge of a KonMari opposer

I like stuff. And I have a lot of it. From art to furniture to knick-knacks picked up while traveling, my home is always brimming with objects; they’re the steadfast companions in the transient life typical of New Yorkers of a certain age. An old boyfriend once told me that his mother, upon hearing that I worked for AD, asked him what my personal decor style was. He (somewhat smugly) told me he’d responded “Crowded.” While I would split hairs on that exact categorization (and, in my defense, I was living at the time of that question in a 500 square foot apartment where having so much as a bed and dresser pretty much constituted crowded), he’s not altogether wrong. That is to say, I’m pretty much Marie Kondo’s nightmare. And as much as I tried to look at the cult-organizer’s approach with an open mind, the reality was that it didn’t seem to quite work for me. Kondo advocates keeping only the things that bring you joy; well, a lot of things bring me joy. An Oomph side table gives me joy to look at, while a Swiss beer stein brings back joyful memories of a summer trip to the Alps, and an antique side chair recalls the joy of finding it at a hot, dusty flea market during college. I’ve always been inclined to politely agree to disagree with Kondo’s ideology, and my “more is more” approach usually suits me just fine. And then, once every few years, there comes a dreaded time when I question all of that: moving.

Moving is the collector’s nightmare, the time of reckoning (and of headache-inducing movers’ fees) for the dumpster-averse like myself. As I filled box after box with my belongings, I became more and more amazed by just how many I could fill. When a friend of mine came over to help me pack, we laughed that she was the worst companion for me in this process, being a fellow "collector" and a (supremely talented) flea market fiend whom we teased for somehow stashing four spare pendant lights in her studio apartment at once. Awhile after we’d chuckled at this, we were settled into a rhythm of packing in my tiny bedroom, her emptying shelves and placing items either into a bin for Goodwill (so far quite sparse) or handing them to me for packaging in my ever-growing pile of boxes. Lift, inspect, handoff, pack; repeat. As she picked up one item, she glanced down, proclaimed, “that’s a nice rock,” and passed it off. I packed it in an open box, neither of us missing a beat. It took a few moments before we both burst out laughing. “Our friends would be ashamed,” she admitted.

But the rock was a nice rock, one I’d picked up on a beach in front of my late great aunt’s house during one of our last visits before the home was sold and torn down by developers eager to turn a profit on a seaside property. In that moment I realized that while the KonMari method may work for some, I’ve made peace with the fact that my style will never fit in just a few boxes, and I’m okay with that  -- or I will be just as soon as I get the rest of my things unpacked.

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