What he hid in the closet? The very notion is laughable. The closet was so overstuffed with cable cords, old headphones, discarded posters, boxes of clippings, holiday wrapping paper, old pillow cases, schwag of all kind (bags, hats, knick knacks) — the door wouldn’t even close. That was the least of my problems. It wasn’t so much that Dominic hoarded, it was more that he couldn’t separate himself from the detritus of life, or maybe that he couldn’t understand the difference. Or even more — this is pure speculation on my part — that he didn’t want to consciously acknowledge that the sum of his past and the person he had become were somehow misaligned.
Once, in a pile of papers full of dust in the corner of his bedroom, I found a poem he’d scribbled on a yellowed, letter length envelope. He often wrote odd little ditties on whatever paper was available. “The notion can strike anytime,” he’d say, “and I just can’t wait.” The handwriting was childlike, and scribbled in pencil.
If all these things came to pass
It might look like succotash
But who could tell them apart
I prefer a life lived a la carte
I never told him that I rustled around in the piles and piles of “stuff” that grew larger every month in our two-bedroom apartment. Roommates have to keep a certain distance, and keep things to themselves. At some point, the crowdedness, the lack of space, and Dominic’s inability to come to terms with his situation started to feel like walls closing in, a shortness of breath in my chest that no inhaler would alleviate. And that morning when I finally decided to broach the topic — in the gentlest way of course — of his dislocation from self and the objects he refused to discard, this disembodiment of the psychological from the physical, well, I couldn’t have imagined his reaction. No, this I’d never anticipated.
“Dominic,” I’d said to him in the kitchen. I held a fresh cup of coffee while he was busy with his spoon in a bowl of Wheaties. “It’s the spring solstice. A lovely time to ponder green shoots and clearing out some of the old to make way for the new.”
He looked up, startled, as if I had poured the milk on top of his head instead of into his bowl.