The Luv Doc: Buried Alive
Making metaphorical mountains out of metaphorical molehills
Dear Luv Doc,
I think my girlfriend might be a hoarder. We just moved in together for the first time at the end of July. While I was helping her move out of her apartment, I found out that a lot of the stuff I thought was her roommate's was actually hers. I couldn't convince her to get rid of it. Now we share a 600-square-foot Downtown apartment that is full of books she doesn't read, clothes she doesn't wear, and lots of little knickknacks that she says she likes to look at. All the clutter is driving me crazy. I don't think I can live like this. How do I get her to pare down?
– Buried Alive
I used to have a neighbor whose house was so cluttered with stuff that you could barely walk through it. There were just tiny aisles that you could shuffle through with your feet turned sideways. It was a fire inspector's nightmare. In fact, I can't say for certain that somewhere within all that debris there wasn't a terrified fire inspector duct-taped to a dining room chair. This dude was a collector; I don't know why that wouldn't extend to humans. Then again, maybe I am making metaphorical mountains out of metaphorical molehills.
The only reason I went into that neighbor's house was that one Halloween, in a frightening, meth-fueled frenzy of neighborliness, he popped over to my house and invited me to come see the "really cool laser light show" he had put together that was syncopated musically with some freedom rock band's live radio simulcast. Might have been the Eagles. Might have been Tom Petty or Bob Seger. The important thing is that it was someone incongruous with laser light shows: It definitely wasn't Pink Floyd. That would have been too easy.
I have to admit, he wasn't bullshitting. He actually did put together a laser light show with an ancient, refurbished-looking laser that was somehow hooked up to a big, 1970s-style stereo system. The laser beam was rather ingeniously (diabolically?) reflected via pieces of strategically placed broken mirror into a matrix that blanketed nearly the entire house.
I remember being both impressed and a little bit terrified – mainly that he had either found a way to recycle a shattered mirror or that he had shattered a mirror in service of what could very generously be described as mild insanity. As you can imagine, I side-shuffled the fuck out of there as quickly as possible – which is why I can't confirm the fire marshal theory.
My guess is that currently you're not in the same immediate peril I imagined myself to be. If your girlfriend starts smashing mirrors and snorting meth, we can talk. Until then, maybe try getting her to agree to binge-watch Marie Kondo with you. If she doesn't go for that, see if you can get her to agree to an equilibrium state whereby each new thing that comes into the apartment demands that an old thing exits the apartment. Just know that at some point, she might apply that policy to you.