Hoarding. It’s a lot more than an amusing eccentricity that makes the character you’re writing more unique. Ever tried being the kid of a hoarder?
It’s not made of amusing eccentricity and clutter, and saying, “Hey, Mom, we need to get rid of some of this stuff,” and her saying, “You’re right.” No. You try telling my mom to get rid of some of her stuff, she yells and throws things, but she doesn’t ever get rid of anything, and it’s all your fault, and she’s going to walk out, and to hell with everything.
It never goes that far, but I really wish she would just walk out. As the useless so-called housewife, what she does is sit at home all day playing Solitaire and listening to movies, while my dad’s out, working hard. She wouldn’t last a day outside her house. She doesn’t even have a driver’s license anymore!
Anyway, being the kid of a hoarder means never inviting anyone over. Friends have to wait outside for you, and even then, you’re embarrassed, because outside’s a mess, too. Not knowing when you stink because the whole house smells bad. Not knowing how to use simple appliances like an oven, because yours hasn’t worked for as long as you can remember. Not knowing how to clean. Apprehension whenever anyone comes to the door. The fridge is on the porch, and the microwave is in the hall. You wash dishes and clothes in the bathroom, and pray the water heater doesn’t break, because it’ll never get fixed. Flies, mice, spiders, ants and silver fish are common. During the winter, you just store food on the porch—that’ll keep it plenty cold. Entire rooms have been full of stuff for so long, you can hardly remember when it was usable. You can’t walk through the house barefoot without your feet being covered in dirt, crumbs, and stepping in animal feces. When something sticky spills on the floor, you clean it up with whatever’s closest, whether it be dirty laundry or junk mail.
And you know what really sucks? Hoarding in and of itself isn’t illegal. Authorities apparently can’t step in and do something about it unless a)there are children involved, b)a disabled person is involved or c)animals are abused because of hoarding. Once upon a time, someone reported my mom, and The Almighty State could step in because my sister and I were children. Mom responded by keeping us in another city all day to avoid them, and not allowing us to go outside.
Now, I’m an adult, and my dad doesn’t and never has had the guts to stand up to my mom—like it would work, anyway. He’s not disabled. Our animals are pretty well treated. So, he’s stuck with it. As am I, when I lack the money to live somewhere else. But it doesn’t change how I’d do anything to lock her up somewhere and restore the house to what it once was.