I’ve never had a problem admitting it: Soy una cachivachera. I’m a pack rat…of the worst kind, at that. I collect all kinds of cachivaches and I always find some kind of sentimental reason why I shouldn’t get rid of even a piece of paper con un garabato.
I have boxes, drawers, bags, envelopes and trunks filled with years worth of all kinds of greeting cards I’ve received; ID cards from school, gyms, libraries and all the jobs I’ve ever had; business cards (my own, from each and every single job I’ve had which deemed it necessary for me to carry one, and those of people I’ve met, but whose names no longer ring a bell); ticket stubs to concerts I’m embarrassed to admit I attended; tacky souvenirs (bought by me and received as gifts); reporter’s notebooks with interviews for stories I don’t even remember anymore; foreign currency; boarding passes; newspaper clippings of stories I don’t care to remember and the list goes on and on and one.
¿Por qué? I’ve often asked myself the same question, but always fail to come up with an acceptable answer. The point is that I do it and that I’m getting tired of it. I feel like I’m drowning. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m getting older — a couple of years away from the big 4-0 — or maybe I’m just running out of space! I don’t know. I do know that in the last few months, I’ve been trying to change my cachivachera ways. (My holding on to things is something I have to work on in other areas of my life, too.)
I started with my closets and got rid of (donated to our nanny who in turn took back to Mexico so her mom could sell it at a baratillo) tons of clothes, shoes, purses and even lingerie I haven’t worn in the longest time. I used to always think that I should keep it in case I needed it one day, but the truth is that the more stuff I got, the more I buried these old things in the back of my closet. I’ve already done this a couple of times, using the change in seasons as an excuse to do some major cleansing, and I must admit, it feels liberating.
I also recently decided to start getting rid of my books — save for a few very special ones. This was a tough one. I mean I absolutely love the idea of having bookshelf after bookshelf filled to the brim with books, pero ¿para qué? I’ve realized the whole point is to share the same great books I’ve already read.
It’s amazing how the universe will conspire to help you achieve your goals once you make up your mind.
Case in point: just a couple of days ago, I was getting fish at Whole Foods and I see a big wooden box filled with books donated by patrons so they can be sold later on ($5 for a hardcover and $1 for paperback) with 100% of the proceeds for the Whole Planet Foundation — which, among other things, offers microcredit loans so that people, in countries like mine, can raise themselves out of poverty! Meanwhile, I’d been trying to figure out what to do with a box full of books I no longer wanted. Bingo!
How about this one: we spent most of last Sunday cleaning up the garage which means we threw out a lot of junk which had no reason to be there in the first place, filled up three large trash bags with stuff to donate (I have a particular soft-spot for veterans) and agreed to get rid of years worth of holiday greeting cards. I always felt guilty throwing those out because I felt like the people who sent them to me had actually taken the time and spent the money to show they cared about me. Whatever.
Anyhow, a few days prior, I’d seen a box in the kitchen at work with a sign asking for old greeting cards. So, on Monday, I walked into work with several dozen holiday greeting cards which will be sent to the Recycle Card Program at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. There they will be turned into new cards by the children of the ranch when they remove the front part and attach a new back. Chévere, ¿no? Who would’ve thought…
I still have a long way to go, but I’m taking it one step at a time.
The only thing that really worries me now is that Vanessa, my 4 1/2-year-old, seems to be following in my same cachivachera steps. ¿Y ahora?
Are you a cachivachera? Why? Have any of you gotten rid of this habit? How?