Am I a hoarder?

A meditation on the question

Christiana White
6 min readJan 22, 2023
Photo by Hobi industri on Unsplash

I have two bowls of Meyer lemons on the dining room table at which I type. An iron candelabra. A little dish of crunchy salt. A jar of spiced cashews. A box of matches. A Safeway receipt. A dish towel, a cloth napkin, and a washcloth. A bottle of Tylenol, a bottle of Advil, and a bottle of generic Motrin. A silver dish of raw-cut, brown sugar cubes. A notebook and pen. A 2023 calendar still wrapped in plastic. My phone. The lower part of a plastic thermometer case. Oh, and a bowl of cat food with a strawberry pattern on the outside.

All that, and to my eyes, the dining table is relatively… clean.

That’s a wake-up call right there, is it not?

When did I become a hoarder?

Of course, I’m not a “real” hoarder. I’ve encountered real hoarding, and this isn’t it. Last year, and the year before, my son and I cleared out the room his father rented in a house in Berkeley. That was a horror of vast proportions, just like you see on the sensationalist shows about hoarders buried by their stuff. My mentally ill ex- had made a habit in recent years of collecting whatever he deemed useful from the street and bringing it back to his room. This included broken appliances, dishes, random pieces of wood, rocks, abandoned luggage (?) (one of the weirder things), spilled and spoiled…