I am an e-hoarder.
Collecting indicates a bit of curation, a special trip to all 50 states for silver spoons with destinations engraved on their faces, some display of order, possible viewing cabinets.
Hoarding is everything collecting is not. It’s the collections that you’ve forgotten and simultaneously add to. There’s no art or order. If you were to get it all out you’d be shocked by it. Others would be shocked. They’d want to bulldoze your house just so they don’t have to deal with it all. It’s messy unquantifiable and reeks of indulgence--the kind that holds you up to scrutiny. Organizing and rummaging through would require people with latex gloves. Shovels.
I’m stuffing words in the crevices of my living e-space. I’ve got 847 pieces of last year’s subscriber mail, never opened. I have unique passwords to 9 separate email in-boxes. I’ve got summer homes in text that I never scrap and rebuild. Once I peered into the deep well of my 4th laptop; I couldn’t see the bottom. Then there are the curated words of my daily life, the posts of limited and unlimited character counts.
Deciding what to release and what to hold back is the difficulty. Now this is part of the world and we’re all living together, with no paper contracts to prove commitment.
When I stand back and hold the words out to view, I’m overwhelmed. The hoarding is brimming in my brain. When others see what I’ve let slip out of my control--
Do they wonder what I’ve lost and what I’m afraid to lose that makes me hold on?
I left a box of love letters at a friend’s house when I went to college. The boy who had written them scripted sincere, romantic prose with the awkwardness of first loves. I saw him turn completely to us, and he felt fragile in my grip.
I was sent a handwritten contract of long-distance friendship from a guy who wrote the most beautifully haphazard, meaningful nonsense. I lost it in the nomadic semesters of college life. One clause of the contract was that we will do whatever we have to to see each other if in close vicinity, which has resulted in steady streams of past midnight conversation in 4 different states and Japan.
A keeper found my entire writing portfolio in a zip disk, left in a library computer. I was the loser. It’s a lay theft that I wish I could undo. I’ve retraced those steps a thousand times in my memory.
My last high school boyfriend printed out every email that we wrote to each other, some of them unfit for polite company, and I wish I could burn their digital and concrete lives, now that they are repossessed and no longer my own.
The poems I’ve written in sleep and groggily put together while staring into the dark, trying to cement metaphors I’d cut from soft bits of dreams--I know they were real-- but a second sleep left them to future deja vu.
I have a stream of living dialogue I’d be loathe to lose. I consider it to be closest to consciousness that I could possibly get, and it unlocks a bit of my shared brain. Everything loops back to the way I communicate. My words there are as connected to reality as parallel lines. That is the writing that is solely mine. A secret stash. A daily milk delivery. A personal laugh track.
I live in the written--lasting, elusive, catching. It’s abstractions that only matter to me and concrete that explains me. I gather them up where they won’t be seen again, backed up by vault storage I pay yearly fees to keep. So I pile them up even if there is nowhere left to stack.
How do I know what I think if I haven’t written it yet? How will I know what I thought if I don’t hold on to it?