Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Separation Anxiety

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Separation Anxiety
“There’s no more room! There’s too much stuff!!
  I’m a born collector, I collect stuff; and if collecting stuff ever became illegal, I’d  have to plead insanity. I’m crazy about collecting! (stuff).  Accepting this seemingly harmless addiction as a fact of my life have, enjoying living with it, and loving it; I’ve never considered a support group nor an intervention. I ‘m at home with my obsession. “Too much of everything is just enough” I say. My life and living spaces reflect that sentiment; I resemble that remark. America (the world) is full of us collectors but, unfortunately there is a down side to our lifestyle: what happens to all of our stuff when we go away?
What happens when we get sick, leave town, get pinched, evicted, become incapacitated, decapitated, hop on the bus (Gus), go into a facility, take it on the lam or die from bad ham.  What happens to our stuff? What happens is that someone else has to deal with it.
“Not me!” I hear you say “nothing and no one will ever separate me from my stuff!” So, okay, tell me: is your job that secure, your home life that stable, your finances that protected? Is your health, surroundings and way of life immune to harm (or bad ham)?  It’s fine to live with an optimistic attitude; but you know, sh*t happens and your support group is only as strong as their finances, health and well being. Truth be told, we’re all one step away from the loss of the independence that is crucial to the custodianship of our belongings.
Bob is my friend. He is no longer able to take care of himself. He is at the mercy of the public health system and has no one to take him in, give him support and/or assist him in his daily life. Bob has an apartment full of stuff. Guess who Bob calls? I’ll give you a hint: it isn’t Ghostbusters.
To get into Bob’s house I need his keys, I need a note to the landlord, I need to get past security. I’m thinking that Bob is going to move back, I spend time cleaning, straightening; hell, I even construct new shelves for his stuff. It’s looking like that won’t be the case and now it’s up to me to handle that. This cannot happen over a weekend; get rid of his stuff, stuff that he has lovingly collected and stuff that (mostly) no one else wants. To take charge of his responsibilities, make sure his affairs are settled, creatimg order out of the chaos that he’s leaving behind is work.
A**** and G**** were my landladies when I lived on Dauphine Street. They had lived in the house since childhood, they grew up in the streets of the French Quarter, went to mass at the Cathedral, shopped at Matassa’s, their husbands were waiters at Antoine’s. G***** was sent to a nursing home. A**** never came back after Katrina. Their apartments were emptied and their personal effects put into trash bags and left on the curb for the evening garbage truck. A crocheted tissue box holder, a ball of twine collected from the restaurant, a bottle of holy water, a report card from their child’s second grade class. Landfill. Up for ridicule. The tree that their father planted in 1955 has been cut down. The building is now condos. It’s as if they had never been born.
John’s mother committed suicide when she was twenty-seven and he was three. He and his little sister were raised by their Dad in a house by the beach. His Dad was an engineer and John became one also. John took his own life at twenty-seven. His kid sister kept the photo album of John’s (and her) baby photos. She lived a long life.
I found the photo album at a thrift store, after she passed; they were about to throw away the photos and sell the album on its own. I have the album (with the photos) and John (and his sister) will live with me as long as we can hold out. Eventually something will happen to me and my stuff will have to be dealt with.
I love my stuff; my stuff anchors me here, keeps me connected to my home and environment. Willingly. Someday I will go away (see above), and my things, that I’ve collected, that help my sanity and stability, will no longer have a home. I tend to anthropomorphize my belongings and as much as I am going to miss them, I know that they’re going to miss me as well.
Sadly, I think that I’d better stop collecting stuff and maybe start letting go of some of what I have. I can call it ‘downsizing’ or maybe just easing the burden that I would place on whoever has to, someday, clean up after me. Perhaps it would have been better if I had not kept so many possessions. Maybe I’ll do it because I've been given a lesson by those that have passed before me. Stuff is just stuff, after all...................Or is it?

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