I have survived a fire twice before. Or maybe I should say, my stuff have survived 2 fires before. In April 2010, the home I lived in sustained a fire. I lost some things I but the majority of what I owned was saved. About 3 months later, the basement where my things were stored while the bottom half of the house was being renovated caught fire. I lost some clothes but once again, the majority was saved. As a result of the fires, I realised that I have a lot of s#*t! However, this was not a light bulb going off moment. I have known for years that I have hoarding tendencies. Several times, while watching Hoarders on A&E or TLC’s Hoarding:Buried Alive, I have had nightmares that I would end up a hoarder, displaced from my home because of all the stuff I refuse to get rid of. I could already see the patterns forming for like the hoarders on the show, I must pick through every piece of paper I own before throwing it away. In 2010, I still try to justify the need for owning 2005 pass tickets for the London underground. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, I can remember making a sign and putting on the walls in an effort to get rid of some stuff. The sign read: what if you lost it all? In spite of that sign, I found it near impossible to get rid of stuff.
Last month I moved out of my townhouse because I had had it with the management at my complex but being the procastinator that I am, I had not yet found a new place and so all my things had to go into storage. As I packed and began loading the truck, I was stuck by the sheer magnitude of all I own. It was sobering, annoying and utterly ridiculous. I own trinkets and knick knacks from as far back as 1993! If there is some little justification to be found for owning the nub of an eraser, I will find it. By the end of the packing, loading and unloading, I promised myself I was going to deal with the problem once and for all if it killed me.
Two weeks ago as I left for a trip, I realised the smoke I had seen the previous night in the sky was the storage unit that contained all my belongings, burning to the ground. Funny enough, I was not as emotional as I would have expected myself to be. These were the things that I have spent over 12 years collecting and holding onto and now they were all gone. My third and what I came to consider my cleansing fire had struck. As I related the story of the fire to my mum, cousins, I found myself almost relieved. Maybe the fire had done what I have been unable to do for years. Maybe this was some sort of weird gift from the heavens. As the days went by, I realised I was not even upset. My only regrets were my pictures but I realised that I will always have my memories. As I move forward now with no worldly possessions, my only hope is that I have learned something from this experience. Hopefully in my new life, I can learn to value things for the quality they bring to my life and not in quantity.