There are two kinds of people in this world. There are the savers who never throw anything away, and there are the pitchers who throw anything there is no immediate use for away.
Opposites do attract, so usually they wind up married to each other. In our union I’m the saver and Bill is the pitcher.
When I was in high school, my mother cornered me in my room one day. “You have to get this mess organized,” she ordered.
“But it is organized,” I wailed. “It just looks like it isn’t.”
“You can’t find anything in that!’ she countered as she gestured toward my mess.
I asked what she wanted me to find. She told me, and I immediately picked it up and handed it to her. She gave up although sometimes she stood in my doorway and shook her head.
When Bill and I got married, we moved into an apartment. Needless to say, I didn’t take any of the stuff I hoarded at my parent’s home with me. Eventually my mom got rid of it by bringing me a boxful every time she visited us over the years.
I began a whole new treasure trove — mostly wedding gifts we couldn’t use right them still in gift boxes — still in gift boxes — stored in an ample closet in the apartment.
Our next home was a rental we knew we wouldn’t stay in forever, so no need to unpack the wedding gifts yet. They were stored away along with a developing stash of assorted baby clothes we would use over and over.
We outgrew the rental and bought our house. When we moved in I had morning sickness that lasted all day long when I was pregnant with baby number four, so, all the stuff I held onto was moved to the new place by others, still packed away.
This was when I discovered my husband was a pitcher.
I had a marvelous collection of glass jars for canning fruits and vegetables. I hadn’t had time to learn how to can yet, but I had the jars and just needed a garden full of ingredients. This house finally provided the necessary garden space in the backyard.
In the spring the garden was planted. In due time I was ready to harvest and can. Surprise. No jars. All gone. My dear husband said when it was time to move the jars he could see no use for them, so he put them in the trash.
This didn’t stop me. I rounded up more jars from well-intentioned family and friends and spent a whole day sweating in the kitchen, canning green beans. By night fall I felt like an early but exhausted Martha Stewart.
I trekked off wearily to the grocery to buy more supplies, including more jars and lids. Among the specials at the front of the store was a huge stack of canned green beans — 10 cents a can. A rapid calculation without a calculator indicated this was a whole lot cheaper than my home-canned beans, and it didn’t include sweating to death.
So, I bought a case of their green beans instead of more supplies, and as I used my home-canned ones I scrubbed the jars and put them safely away because someday someone might be able to use them.
This was my turning point. After this I seldom saved things for myself. Instead I tucked them away because someday someone might be able to use them. This was about 40 years ago. I now have an attic and a basement stuffed full of things someone might use someday, but so far nobody has.
All of those years, packing away things which were too good to throw away! And for what? This leopard is about to change her spots — from saver to pitcher.
But, on the other hand, some of the stuff is almost old enough to be antique. Maybe I’ll keep it just a little longer.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Sept. 13, 2000.