Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm not hoarding, I'm saving it for later.

My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression.   She saved everything. She taught my mom to save everything. They taught me to save everything.  "Don't throw that out, you might be able to use it later."  "Don't throw that skirt out! If you pull it up like this, and wear this belt . . .Look, whole new skirt!"  And really that wouldn't be a problem if I hadn't been born in the 80's.

Cash turned to plastic and we developed a  disposable culture, mass produced goods over consumed using money we hadn't even earned yet.  Commercials featuring plastic toys made off whatever popular cartoon series, coated in glitter, and just cheap enough to have dozens. Then collecting became popular. Barbie, Beanie Babies, Baseball cards.  Kids without access to the things they wanted in youth suddenly had jobs, and credit cards, and wanted to complete their sets.  Everything was worth 10 times what it was 2 years ago. Kids used to hand me downs and leftovers had access to credit and so much junk to spend it on.

The depression era saver taught the credit card consumer to save save save.  Shop, save, shop, save. An entire generation of hoarders was born.  Boxes piled up. More clothes than we could ever wear, outgrown with the tags still on.  Cheap plastic toys manufactured in places my young self had never heard of before.  Everything was pink, cheap, covered in glitter, gold lamé,based on some television show that I just couldn't stop watching.  Cheap plastic shoes called Jellies, Snap Bracelets.  Huge trends that made absolutely no sense and died as quickly as they started.  Things designed to just throw money at with no other uses than to waste cash.  Pet rocks, Flowbees. rhinestones, and Bedazzlers, Tamagotchi.  Things you would use for a day, maybe a week. If you were lucky it didn't break before you lost interest.  And when I went to donate my clothes to goodwill, my mother would take the clothes out of the boxes and save them for me for later. You know, just in case.   Just in case I needed a neon green and teal sequin dress again.  Just in case.

My mother was swept up in the collect it now frenzy. My college savings was "invested" in Barbie! We were going to be rich. My dolls were going to go the way of Mickey Mantle baseball cards. Bob Mackie was on the scene.  We were going to be rich.  But collectors needed a forum to meet sellers . . . and Ebay happened.
We'll be waiting

Everything I had was worthless. Stamps, Barbies, Baseball cards.  Thousands of dollars worth of dolls suddenly worth absolutely nothing.  And even that wasn't so bad. It was the culture that hurt.  Don't throw it away, it will be worth something one day. In 10 years, just you watch.  Save those, save those.

But my mother didn't know about collecting. She bought the "collector's editions." The same ones everyone else bought and saved.  She opened all the boxes, she let me play with the dolls, she changed their clothes, I brushed their hair.  All together now, I think the dolls are worth about $200 collectively.  I tried selling them on ebay but the market is flooded with barbies people thought would be worth something one day.

So then I was saving them for when I had a child.  What fancy barbies, she will just love them. Just have to save them a little longer, a couple more years. Apartment to apartment, house to house, those dolls haunted me. I looked around my basement and realized how cluttered it is becoming. But there is still room so it's okay.  It's okay, really.  I'm just saving it for later. What if my tiny grown up wants it when she is grown? What if suddenly these are so valuable? They're collector's items, antiques. Have to save, save, save, save.

And now they are priceless. I am turning this hording habit into what I hope equates to some good karma. They will go to the women's shelter.  For the children there.  Special unopened, never touched holiday barbies. My daughter picked a few for herself. The collectors plates, tea sets, antiques all disappearing slowly from my life.  And it feels great!

That wedding dress I was saving for a Halloween costume, the Halloween costume that took so many hours I just couldn't throw it away, the dolls I was saving for my daughter, the thread from my great grandmother that is long past it's prime.  All the things I was just going to fix up and oh . . . has it really been 5 years?  The clothes I was going to fit back into in a little box marked "MILF".  I can fit back into them, but really, is a 31 year old mother going to pull of suede pants at the bar? Not this one.

All going. Going away.  I'm not saving it for later any more.

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