Saga of a String-Saver

September 29, 2002

Welcome to Wyndspirit Dreams! I once read an anecdote about a woman who saved everything. She even had a box carefully labeled, “Pieces of String too Short to Save.” That would be me.

You would think that, over several moves, I would have thrown something away. Instead, moving only compounds the problem, because I invariably run out of time and cram things into boxes clearly labeled “Stuff” or “Miscellaneous.” It’s after the move when I’m exhausted and aching from lugging boxes that I vow to go though my stuff and throw away a bunch of it.

I have a box of crochet thread that a friend gave me about fifteen years ago, that had belonged to her aunts. It has made four moves with me so far. I did start crocheting an “easy” star ornament from one ball, but gave up because it was too difficult. Recently my kitten overturned the box and made a tangled mess of several balls—twice! I wasted three hours one beautiful Saturday morning untangling a ball from around my vacuum cleaner cord. (Don’t ask!) What could I do with this crochet thread? 1) Throw it in the garbage. 2) Put it in a rummage sale for a dollar. 3) Re-box it in a kitten-proof box and put it back in the storage room. Guess which one I’m going to do?

So, why have I saved this for so long? Well… Crochet thread is expensive. It was given to me by a dear friend with the expectation that I’d use it. And I do intend to use it someday!

Why do I have this compulsive need to save stuff? I had a glorious childhood, but our poverty left me with one major hangup. I save everything. “Pieces of string to short to save” can be put out for birds in the spring or used for string latch hook rugs (yes, there are such things!) or can even be knotted together to form a string that’s long enough to be useful. Styrofoam and popsicle sticks can be made into Barbie furniture. Litter containers can be made into magazine holders. Corrugated cardboard can be used for any number of projects. The thing is, when I was growing up, if I didn’t have the materials to make something, I couldn’t have it. When I wanted a pen holder I made one from a soup can and a scrap of fabric. When I wanted a Barbie bike I made one from cardboard, popsicle sticks, and a hairpin. When I wanted a big dollhouse, I used leftover house paint to paint a box.

Now I can buy stuff I need, and, admittedly, sometimes I buy too much. I should throw away most of the stuff I’ve saved, but I can’t. I guess my childhood has left me with an insecurity, a fear that someday I’ll lose it all and will need to make do with only what I’ve saved. So, I guess, in a way, my “string-saving” is my security blanket. But then I look at friends who also grew up having nothing, but did without rather than learn to make whatever they wanted, and I realize, that, in a weird way, my packrat tendencies is also evidence of a gift, the gift of creativity. And it is a gift. As little as I had, I never felt I had to do without, because, if I wanted something badly enough, I could find a way to make it. I guess a stuffed storage room is a small price to pay for that gift!

Let me know what you think!
Wyndspirit Dreams