Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fuckin’ albatross

This one time, around about 1995, I was walking home from the movies when I thought my house had burned down. There were fire engines parked up on the lawn and all sorts of people running about. I thought my beautiful collection of comics and books and all things paper had gone up in smoke.

And I didn’t really mind at all.

* * *

It’s a fucking weight around the neck sometimes. All this stuff, all these piles of comics and books and magazines and shit. Sometimes it all gets a bit much and its time for a purge, but there is always more, more, more.

I just can’t get rid of it. Boxes full of Spider-Man and Hellblazer and Bacchus and five thousand other comics. There is an entire pallet of comics and magazines sitting in the side room of a factory 2000 kilometres away which I’m still planning to pick up, and I can’t bear to throw any of it out. Even the shitty Lobo comics.

* * *

And it sometimes feels a bit hypocritical. How can I cheer on King Mob when he blows up Mason’s mansion at the end of volume two of The Invisibles, when at that time I had never been overseas because I didn’t know what to do with my stuff?

A few years before that, a profile of Grant Morrison in 2000ad says that his greatest moment in comics was the moment he realised he could just chuck them all in the bin when he was done with them, and I felt so fucking jealous that he could just do that.

* * *

A couple of weeks ago the wife said we should move to the Caribbean for two years before we settle down and have kids and go boring. It’s a mental idea where we would have to chuck in our careers for a whole, travel halfway around the world and commit to a lifestyle full of uncertainties.

But there is also a part of my brain that sits there going “Well, why not?” Other people do crazier stuff and there isn’t any good reason not to.

As sad as it sounds, the one major thing holding me back is the all this goddamn paper, a forest reduced to four colour fun. But that can go back into storage and that “why not?” in my head is getting louder and louder.

* * *

In 35 years, I have lived in nearly 40 flats, houses and apartments, and every move has been an absolute mission of efficiency. It has to be, when there are several dozen heavy boxes to move around.

I don’t mind the move so much, and can now deal with the problem with ease. It’s a stupid skill to have, but a skill all the same. I can have everything packed up in hours and moved from city to city with few problems.

I should just get rid of it all. Sell the entire lot and buy booze and candy with the proceeds. But I can’t.

I genuinely love it all so goddamn much.

* * *

I also love looking at other people’s bookcases. Comic bookcase porn has been everywhere in the last couple of years, with Alan David Doane recently posting some shots of his own gorgeous collection. Alan does admit that owning that much stuff is sometimes a massive pain in the ass, but with results like that, it must be hard to argue against it all.

I have spent approximately 17% of my life arranging my bookshelves in some way and whenever I walk into somebody’s home, I always end up judging them by the standard of the books on their shelves. So I have to show off my impeccable taste in some way, don’t I?

* * *

But if I did have to lose it, if it was taken away from me, I’m not sure I’d mind.

When I was 12, our house came within a hair’s breadth of being completely flooded out by a swollen river. Even at that age, I had a sizable pile of well-loved comics and books and toys like that Boba Fett figure I’d had since I was five and was genuinely terrified of losing the lot.

The stopbank down the road ended up holding back the swollen Opihi River and I lost nothing, but so what if I had? Most of those comics I would have lost in that flood disappeared over the years since the near-flooding, with almost no regrets. Some of them literally fell to pieces from over-reading over the years, a lot were given away or sold, and many just disappeared.

So what?

* * *

This past weekend I got the chance to do nothing. That might not sound like much, but after weeks and weeks of functions and gigs and job things and catching up with old friends and shows and all that jazz, it was nice to be able to sit and home and do nothing.

And I wasn’t bored for one second, because there was so much to read and flick through and browse sitting in those boxes in the spare room.

With the attention span of a gnat, it’s nice to have a lot of choice and it’s moments like that which remind me why I hold on to all this crap.

To always have something to read. To always have something to enjoy. To always have something to do.

* * *

And yet….

That fire engine was sitting right on my front lawn and I thought it had all gone up in smoke. All those Justice League comics and Wild Card books, all gone. And I felt free.

It would have been a tragedy to lose all those things I had painstakingly collected over the years, but the stories were still in my head and could only get better without the dull reality of the actual object.

And I could be free to go anywhere and do anything.

But then it turned out that the fire engine was dealing with the house next door and all my precious possessions were safe, so I carried on with my hoarded life to this day.

And while it’s great to have all that shit, I still can’t shake the feeling that I honestly wouldn’t mind if it all went away. I’m not brave enough to do anything further than the odd purge, but losing it all couldn’t be that bad.

It’s only stuff.

3 comments:

Aditya Bidikar said...

It's like you've reached into my mind and smeared it onto your blog. I identify so much with this.

Tor Hershman said...

WOW! This IS The Tearoom Of Despair, you even bummed moi out.

Bob Temuka said...

Shit! Sorry, Tor. Have another scone. You'll feel better.