Nancy Bryans, Writer, Production Assistant

Nancy Bryans headshot

As I grew, my hodgepodge included skeleton keys, canceled stamps, old coins, banknotes, jewelry, political campaign buttons and pins, weathered wood and rocks, and autumn leaves pressed between pages of my favorite books. One day, my mother took me to an antique shop filled with sparkling crystal, china, silver, brass, artwork, and furniture. We scrutinized each antique in the store, which initiated my next phase of acquiring curios.

Years transpired, I married, moved from one house to another, dragged my bits and pieces with me, and decorated each home with an assortment of my prized agglomerations. Visitors commented my home was a curiosity shop. Others said it looked like an antique emporium. But some people wondered why I had all this stuff in my house. It is not as though I am a hoarder; I am a visual person who enjoys owning and admiring collectibles, including my artistic creations.

Ridding my home of any object pains me, wondering if someone will admire it in a thrift shop, take it home, and treasure it as I did. Sometimes a dusting mishap solves my disposal issue, albeit a sad fate for that object. Other times items deteriorate, depreciate or lose importance. But trying to prioritize relinquishing my perceived valuables is a problem. During one of my moves, I decided to pack my most cherished and useful things and donate the remainder to charity. Then I remembered a woman who I once knew decided to have a garage sale to dispose of her heirlooms none of her family wanted. Afterward, she said it was a relief to know she would not burden her family with discarding her possessions. Several weeks following her garage sale, a notice of her funeral appeared in the newspaper. I wondered if she realized too late she had no tangible items to hold her here any longer. This delayed my eliminating any of my stuff for quite some time.

An interior decorator proffered a solution to my dilemma: “Purge your house of everything you have not used in the last year.” What good is that advice? Isn’t admiring decorative treasures in my home considered a “use” of them? Hence, here I am, wondering how to rid myself of precious possessions collected over the span of my lifetime, collectibles some people simply call stuff.

Image by Nancy Bryans