You all know how minimalist I am. Probably more then most people, I have embraced the hardcore minimalist lifestyle with an enthusiasm I haven’t had in years. It took a long time and a lot of work to get here and I am quite happy with my current inventory of 3 dozen items and my trusty backpack. It’s allowed me to plan for a totally different way of life when I get through the rest of this year and beyond. But it’s not always so easy.
My current living situation with family here in the cloudy, rainy, dank mountains of Pa. is a clash of lifestyles. In plain terms, I live with a hoarder.
My parents, my aunts and uncles, and don’t get me wrong, they are wonderful people and I love them to death, have a very different view on life than I do. They all grew up in very large families during the depression and world war. Money was scarce as was food, clothing, and just about everything else. It was a daily struggle just to feed everyone and it left a strong impression on them. So, when the war was over, and boom times came, they all over compensated. They bought everything. Houses, new cars, furniture, televisions, and every known gadget and gewgaw known to mankind. All the little things they were denied while growing up because they couldn’t afford them were now within their grasp and they made up for said denials with a vengeance. As a result, they all live in places filled to the brim with stuff.
Every corner of the 2 bedroom apartment where I am staying is occupied by something. A piece of furniture, some dust catcher, a decoration depending on the time of the year. Every wall has pictures or mirrors hanging from it, every closet is packed as full as possible with clothing, boxes of crap, and who knows what else. Take a look…
This is 1/2 of 1 closet out of 5 in the apartment. I cannot squeeze my hand in-between the clothes, let alone hang anything else up. And this is for one person. The whole apartment is like this. There are at least 6 dressers with 4 to 5 drawers each here, every one filled to the brim. And if this ain’t enough, there is a garage which is rented and in addition to keeping the vehicle out of the weather, there are shelves stacked 6 feet high packed with more shit.
And as for food, well, there will be no starving in this place.
When I open the freezer I have to move at least three different things just to get at what I want. Something is always falling on the floor. I have no idea what all is in there or how edible it still is. But the rest of the kitchen is just as bad. The pantry is full of canned goods and piles of bags for storage and garbage. The cabinets have even more food. And there is only the two of us, sometimes a third eating here.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s all good food. I’ve been eating like a pig and have gained at least 10lbs since I came here. But at some point it gets ridiculous to keep so much in one apartment for so few. Rarely a day goes by without more being added to the pile. And even with all the food kept in the place, they still go out to the restaurants several times a week.
I’ve done everything I can to stop this madness. I pleaded with everyone to stop shopping and spending so much money on stuff we don’t need. I’ve chastised them for coming home with a loaf of bread when there are 3 loaves already in the cupboard. I don’t dare mention I’m hungry for something lest it sparks yet another run to the store.
It’s crazy. But this is the way people live up here. They went without growing up and by Darwin’s beard they will not go without as they get older. The idea of minimalism is as foreign to them as middle east politics. They do not understand why somebody like me would want to do without all these creature comforts. I guess I grew up the opposite of them, a childhood full of toys, gifts, and never going hungry. It all sounded good until I realized what it cost to maintain such a lifestyle. Minimalism is way more better, and way more cheaper. Plus I can still eat good.
I dread the day something happens and I inherit this huge stash of shit. It will take months, maybe years to sort it all out. At least it’s an improvement over what I was looking at when we owned a big house out in the country. This place only holds a fraction of what we had out there.
I can’t change anyone’s way of thinking and I pretty much have given up. All I can do is live with it, and enjoy the mighty good vittles. But at some point a day of reckoning will come, and I will be faced with an entire new round of downsizing. I’m not looking forward to it.