Letters of Mass Construction

The Anti-Collector

All my life I have been a collector. It started when I was in third grade with comic books. It moved onto Star Wars action figures and eventually added my biggest collection, autographed books. I have always liked the feeling of having complete sets of things or rare books others wished they had. Like right now, I have a true first edition, first printing autographed edition of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. The book is relatively rare and getting more and more expensive to buy as the years go on. It sits on my shelf and every time I see it I smile a tiny bit. My collection is full of books like that. I have all but the first 7 or 8 Terry Pratchett Discworld books in hardback. All signed and first editions. Even better they are the U.K versions with the far superior covers. I still get a warm feeling in my stomach when I see my autographed hardback of Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. The book never came out in hardback in the U.S. I had to have a friend in the U.K. track it down for me after I read it. Now it is almost impossible to find and you will pay a pretty penny to own it.

I am not going to lie. For most of my life I have truly loved my autograph book collection. Now as I prepare to pack it up so the new carpet can get installed I realize something has dramatically changed in my brain. I look at the books and realize, for some of them, I don’t care that much anymore. I have a strong feeling that many of the books which go into boxes are never going to come out and be put back on shelves. I have turned into the Anti-Collector.

The change has crept over me the last few years. I began to slow up on my buying of autographed books. In part because I was running out of space. I slowly cut back on certain authors’ books. I didn’t stop reading the author but they were shuffled over to Kindle purchases. Now it has become a full-blown slaughter, the authors I continue to buy autograph copies of  is down to just a handful. Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Christopher Moore, Ian Rankin (Rebus books only) are the only remaining authors I buy.

The change is easy to trace. Sheri and I have only 13 years left of teaching. We started young and this will give us 30 years in the profession. We are going to get out while we still have enough of our senses to enjoy the remaining years together. The plan is to move to big cities we have always wanted to live in and stay there for a while. We knew this would mean paring down the amount of stuff we own. We want to be lean, mean, moving machines. We want to be able to move whenever we feel like it. We want to travel. We want to get on the touring motorcycle we are about to buy and head down a coast. Suddenly, all of these things seemed more important than stuff. When that clicked over in my head I realized it was silly to accumulate things I was just going to part with later. Now when I buy something it is with the knowledge I will be getting rid of it when I am done (like video games) or I plan to keep it even when we start moving. It is kind of a liberating feeling. I liked collecting things but I like the thought of traveling with the woman I love more. I know this all sounds very grown up but have no fear. Upon the completion of writing this blog I will return to my regularly scheduled immaturity.

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One Response to “The Anti-Collector”

  1. merri says:

    I used to keep a lot of stuff. Some of my family are hoarders, like on the tv show (yes my great aunt had those giant dumpsters at her house!), so it’s in my blood. But then I started just going through purging sessions. After college, I threw/gave away half the stuff I owned, including hundreds of books. I hardly remember doing it but some I regret. When I moved to SF I gave/threw away 90% of everything I owned, and it was really liberating to come here with about 2 suitcases and 3 boxes. You’re right, tiny city apartments can’t take as much stuff! And you appreciate the things you DO own more.

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