Musings of a Micro-Hoarder Vol. 2: This Doesn’t End Well for Me


My name is Betrayer (not really, but according to my wife).

My micro-hoarding has caused strife in my marriage.

It’s funny. In most marriages, the arguing is over money, the running of the house, sex.

Not us. Know what we fight about? Four shoe boxes on a shelf in (the unfinished quadrant of our basement). That’s it.

What’s in the boxes?

The past, that’s what. Specifically, my ex-girlfriends.

No, not their remains, you ghouls. Although, if that were the case, I’d have to concede this particular argument to my wife…and the district attorney.

Mementos. Notes, letters, trinkets, movie stubs.

Box 1: My high school girlfriend, Kelly. I kept this box (mostly of notes passed in the hallways) because I wanted it on record that I actually got and kept a girlfriend at that age.

It is a reminder of such a pure time in our lives before iPhones and text messaging. I was a master at folding a sheet of notebook paper into a perfectly self contained and enclosed triangle.

The notes are precious and ordinary. Mostly filled with soul penetrating philosophical notions like: “I’m in Math. It’s totally boring. So I thought I’d write to you.”

Part of me secretly hopes the counterparts to the half of this epistolary relationship I posses still exist, either in Kelly’s attic or, at the very least, in her heart.

Box 2: My first college girlfriend, Susan. We dated for two years and were engaged at one point. Things are slightly more sophisticated. Here we find:

  • air mailed correspondence from her semester in London
  • a plastic champagne “cork” (we were, after all, poor college students)
  • 2 deflated mylar balloons (one says “I love you,” the other “I miss you”)
  • bows with tags saved from long forgotten Christmas gifts
  • movie ticket stubs from Candyman and Jurassic Park

I don’t read the letters, ever.

I can’t help but smile when I see a few letters from her younger sister written, also, while Susan was abroad. The return address simply says “Bundles” a nickname the family had for her. This recollection warms me like a shot of whisky to the gut.

Box 3: My second and final college girlfriend, [name redacted]. No letters here, as there was no need to write. We were bound to the Trenton State College (fuck you TCNJ) campus together for a year before I graduated. However, there are:

Oh! Who cares? You get the point. It’s stuff I’ve saved from exes that has some sentimental value.

My wife doesn’t understand. She asks why I have these things. She asks rather tongue-in-cheek, “What, are you still in love with them?”

“No, I’m in love with you.”

“Then why?” “Do you ever go down there and go through that stuff?”

“I haven’t since long before we met.”

“So just get rid of it.”

“I can’t.” “It means a lot to me.” (This is a dangerous statement in this conversation).

“Oh? How would you feel if I had a bunch of love letters and trinkets from one or all of my ex-boyfriends?”

“I would be jealous and hurt…but I would understand.”

“I’m not worried or jealous, I just don’t get what you are clinging to.”

It goes on and on in an endless circle.

What she is not seeing:

Every single friendship, relationship, good decision, bad decision; every love, loss, betrayal, conflict, make-up; every moment of my life has brought me to today:

Happily married, happily familied, happily jobbed. I love my life.

But my life would not be what it is without, among many other people places and things:

Kelly Dudas, Susan Sutphen, [name redacted], and Kate Simbro.

I am a better man and husband because of the these women.

These were, while they lasted, blissful periods in my life. Why would I want to bury them? Memories are great, but I’m also very tactile, I need concrete, tangiable memories as well. I guess it’s the same reason I will always prefer real books to an E-reader, Kindle, etc.

Plus, I’m a saver.

I’m not reliving the past. I’m honoring it. I’m cherishing it. It’s me.

I tell her, “If you love me, if you love what I am, it’s due, in part, to those four boxes of discord in the basement.”

Damn. I left my pillow upstairs. It’s very hard to get comfortable on our couch.