This is my third year renting this cottage, and my third winter being utterly frozen. We’ve got two space heaters running, though, which is great because they cost a lot less to run than the gas heat.

So recently I felt upset and angry. This was because I have a lot of stuff, and my boyfriend has almost none. He’s not into material possessions almost at all: He doesn’t collect anything. He owns the minimum number of pants, shirts, and shoes that he needs to get by. The books he reads tend to be ones I bring him, and they go back on my shelves when he’s done.

I, on the other hand, have amassed things, just things, for as long as I can remember. Exhibit A:


Here I am, age … maybe seven? LOOK at all that junk behind me. That was my junk. I probably still have some of it. Exhibit B:


That’s a photo of a bunch of junk we actually took out of the cottage about two months ago. And some of it is actually still outside right now. It’s covered with snow and totally ruined.

The thing is, it was inevitable that that would happen. My boyfriend can not stand having this much junk and clutter all over the place, and I can only continue to helplessly stress that this is how I’ve always been, and how I will always be. I really can’t help it.

I purge regularly. When the amount of junk builds up to where it gets on even my nerves, I sort through it and take bags and bags to a local thrift shop. I sell some of it on eBay. I even rent a storage space, which is where most of my art supplies are.

But the junk returns. If I see something for free, I take it. If I see something that’s cheap and will fit me or look neat on the windowsill, I buy it. Sometimes (but not often) I’ll even buy something that’s not-so-cheap, like the $100 glass-fronted book case I bought at an auction the other weekend. (Hey, at least it holds stuff.)

I try to convince my boyfriend that I don’t have control over the junk. It’s a partial truth; I don’t really want to have control over it, or at least to have to control myself. I really like my stuff. I like seeing it there, looking weird. I like people’s reactions when they come over for the first time. I like touching it, and moving it around, and putting it away. I like throwing it out, even!

But he doesn’t understand. His possessions literally take up about a quarter of our bedroom. The rest of the cottage is my junk, except for a few bags of his tools in the front room (which we call the Airlock). He’s tolerated (or at least, he hasn’t moved out) this for about two-and-a-half years, but occasionally it just gets to him (usually in the winter when we’re cooped up and hungry) and we have a Conversation.

I’m not sure what the compromise should be. I constantly feel guilty because I know my clutter drives him crazy, even though he rarely complains about it. If it were warmer maybe I’d take some of it outside to the fire pit and burn it. Our property is for sale and we’re going to have to move soon (but that’s another journal entry). Until then, I think we’re at a standstill.