Cleaning garage offers closure and an end to hoarding

So, I have come to realize that I was, indeed, a hoarder.

How else to explain that the old notebooks that I was required to keep for even years after doing stories at The Washington Post still lived in boxes in the garage?

How else to explain decades of receipts, paper scraps and knick-knacks whose purposes had long since ended?

How else to explain that the excuse I gave for not tossing out nearly 200 banker’s boxes of junk in the garage was because one of them held a bag of magnets from Broadway shows, magnets no longer available that I refused to part with?

Really? Really. Wow.

Seeing an empty garage for the first time in 10 years gave me more than a sense of relief. It gave me a sense of closure.

I took bags and bags of clothes that no longer fit to the Salvation Army.

I gave away art work and a recliner whose story time duties had ended.

I decided to cut pieces of art out of frames and place them in a portfolio where I could look at them rather than have them sit unnoticed like wallflowers at a dance.

As I sorted through letters from old lovers, remnants fro feeble attempts at various hobbies and souvenirs from dozens of conventions and conferences, I felt a sense of closing one door and opening another.

Every relic came with a story, but the stories no longer needed to be told.

I am no longer a hoarder… well, I won’t be as soon as I sort through the rest of the clothes I discovered and find soon as I find that favorite gray sweater I haven’t seen in five years.

Other than that, I’ve moved on.

ROCHELLE RILEY’s essays on this blog are personal. No reprints without permission. You can read her newspaper columns at
Follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.



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