Cleaning up this hoarder’s mess

David Trinko Contributing columnist

David Trinko Contributing columnist

Some people hide their past in the closet.

Others keep it in the attic.

Apparently, we keep ours in the basement.

Recently, my family spent a few days clearing out our basement. Officially, the goal was to move everything from one side to the other so we could paint the walls with waterproofing paint, then paint over the flooring.

Unfortunately for me — a man who harbors some minor hoarding tendencies, brought on by genetics — this meant coming face to face with just how much junk ended up a floor below our primary living area.

Over time, things come in and out of use at a home. Kids outgrow toys. Electronics become obsolete. Furniture gets replaced or becomes unnecessary. My answer is always the same, to bring it down to the basement until we decide we need it again.

With my typical hoarder-like mind, I allow the exception to become the rule. The one time we need a bookcase in one of the kids’ rooms proves why we needed to keep three old ones in the basement. That exceptional moment when we needed to replace the power supply on a laptop computer proves the value of keeping the power supplies of five other defunct machines.

To be clear, my hoarding has limits. I’m not one of those people who holds onto absolute trash (although my wife might disagree on that what I think isn’t trash). I throw away unnecessary return address envelopes and junk mail. When a machine irreparably breaks, I discard of it properly. I have more issues tossing something that still functions but we’ve just outgrown, perhaps for my own fear of being discarded someday.

In any event, before we could paint the basement, we had to clean the basement. And that meant emptying the basement.

You should’ve seen the look on the woman’s face at the donation center when we brought her 10 trash bags full of perfectly good, albeit outgrown, stuffed animals and toys. Her eyes lit up when we brought in a similarly good but outgrown Barbie Dream House, which will be someone else’s dream now and end our nightmare of how much room it occupied in our basement over the past decade and a half.

Similarly, we moved a lot of unnecessary, unused furniture out of that basement area. It sat on our front porch for a few days, depreciating our home value, before I brought it to the curb for trash day.

Sadly, the trash collectors couldn’t bear to take those items away from us either, leaving them behind. (I suspect it’s because I didn’t give them enough notice, but I prefer to think they thought our junk was too valuable to trash.) Now the wooden items are in the back of my yard, awaiting warmer weather and a pass with the saw to turn them into a nice backyard fire some night.

So now I’m hiding my hoarding with the firewood. Don’t tell anyone!

David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest.

David Trinko Contributing columnist Trinko Contributing columnist