27. It is never a good situation when children are involved.
A Reddit user has the unfortunate luck of watching her boyfriend’s family go through hoarding behaviors while they have their first baby. She writes, “My boyfriend’s brother and his wife are really bad hoarders, and they just recently had a kid. No one knows what the house looks like now, but the kid seems healthy. The entire family gets together almost every year to clean up their house for them, but they just trash it. My boyfriend is secretly hoping someone will see the conditions, report it, and they’ll lose custody. His brother is also suicidal while the wife has a major anxiety disorder so that it wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
It is never a good thing to live how people with hoarding mental illnesses live, but when you bring an innocent child into the mix, it only worsens. With a weaker immune system and objects around everywhere that could be sharp or dangerous in other ways, the child is exposed to bad scenarios. There is a much higher risk of getting sick if the areas are filthy. Also, there is more risk of injury. With family helping out, hopefully, this family gets all the help they can. Hopefully, these parents can make any difficult decisions in the best interest of their child.
26. One parent being a hoarder when the other one isn’t can cause issues.
“My dad was a hoarder for my entire childhood. He only had partial custody of me due to a divorce (prior to his hoarding tendencies developing), but it messed me up for years. If you are worried about the kid, most places let you make an anonymous tip. And as a family, there is a good chance that the kid could be relocated to you (or another family member) rather than placed into the system. Contrary to popular belief, social workers really don’t want to remove kids from their homes and families, and therefore try to find various alternatives before reaching that point.”
Reddit user paradoxically tells a story that is all too common and not only for hoarding. Many families that you would think aren’t suitable keep their children most of the time. As long as you meet basic needs – food, water, shelter – then it is very common for the child to remain home. Unfortunately, it can instill terrible habits in children when it comes to hoarding and makes them have anxiety later in life. It can present itself in many ways, from social anxiety to anxiety about getting more possessions or getting rid of anything.
Reddit user HotelRoom5172648B writes, “My grandmother hoards prescription medicines that do not belong to her. She’s been collecting for over 15 years and doesn’t remember who 90% of these people are.” The number of bottles her grandmother must have would be outrageous after collecting them for 15 years. If she doesn’t remember the people to whom they belong, this could be a sign of dementia. Dementia is not uncommon among those who also suffer from hoarding disorders. Unfortunately, it is a progressive disease and has different levels of severity.
Dementia often starts with just simple forgetfulness, like forgetting where you left something. Then it can progress into forgetting more names and places and getting lost. Memory loss is more apparent, and their problem-solving skills also diminish. Becoming very moody and angry often happens around the later stages as well. Eventually, it can be challenging for someone with dementia to take care of themselves; they will need around-the-clock supervision. Dementia, unfortunately, looks different for everyone, so it can be hard to say how quickly things will happen and what exactly a person will need.
According to the national fire protection association (NFPA.org), almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (41%) or no working smoke alarms (16%). You should check fire alarms at least once a year minimum. Most people have a hard time remembering this, so some people associate it with a holiday (on New Year’s Eve, you need to check the smoke detector, for example). This next story told by Reddit user johnboy11a may jog your memory every year for checking your smoke detectors.
“In my early years as a firefighter, we were dispatched to a house fire that started downstairs in a house. Mom and two young children were not home at the time. Upon our arrival, we found the whole downstairs involved. Once we got a good knock on the fire, we found a LOT of junk blocking access to an exit door by the bottom of the steps. We found the deceased father by that door with lots of junk blocking him from getting the door open. There were also no smoke detectors in the house. That evening, I replaced the smoke detectors in my parents’ house and my grandmother’s house.”
Reddit user joejoewhisky has had a hard time coping with their mother and how she behaves. They write, “My mother does this absolutely trashed any place she moves into. Won’t throw out containers or anything. Newspapers everywhere because she might need it or she can use it for something else; she’s always trying to use it to save her money. However, she’s poor because she has three storage units full of more shi*. It’s like a mortgage payment at this point. I can’t visit her, [there’s] nowhere to sit; you can’t have a holiday at her place, [there’s] nowhere to put my stuff down. Why do they do this? They literally derail their life so that they can keep garbage lying around.”
Unfortunately, this is all too common when it comes to mental illness. It is not necessarily making bad life choices because who would want to live like that in a good state of mind? These decisions are made. However, there are many underlying issues. We need to support people like this and try to get them to help where we can. If you can’t get professional help, maybe looking to your local library for some books could be a good starting point. It is a free resource; sometimes, books aimed towards self-help will have websites listed in them that you can look to for more information.
Reddit user EagerBrad wasn’t directly involved with this hoarding story, but it is the story that his parents had to endure. They had rented out their space to a very young couple who had a baby on the way, thinking that they were doing a good deed. The girl’s mother was around when the viewing took place, so it seemed like some parental guidance would be happening. Only when the young tenant had signed the contract did they realize how young she was and that maybe this wasn’t the best idea? It doesn’t get any better afterward… “They had a baby, and … let’s say they weren’t thriving financially. It seemed like the guy had decided to step up and do everything in his power to raise this child with his young girlfriend/wife/whatever she was.
It turns out that included raising and selling snakes in little glass containers, breeding rats to feed the snakes, and doing so without a semblance of cleanliness. That took us nearly a whole day just to scrub the place down when they left (couldn’t afford to stay). I have no idea how that child wasn’t desperately sick, but it was utterly disconcerting cleaning the place up afterward and thinking that a child had been living there. The bath had hardened dust/mud on it, and even the ceiling needed a good scrubbing. It’s one thing being a slob (I’ll readily admit that I’m horrifically untidy and messy), but that was another level – and with a baby in the flat!”
21. Sharing your space when there isn’t any space is hard.
“My mother. She has three wardrobe closets, a shelf, and bags and tubs full of clothes (which probably don’t fit her) and other stuff. We live in a one-bedroom apartment. Furthermore, she has used the two closets we have for storing random crap and old clothes. That stuff is full of dust. Like, why do we still have clothes from when I was little and 15+ blankets? Seriously, I don’t even have a place to put my clothes. They’re all in stacks. I can’t even walk a week without stubbing my toes.” That is a lot to unpack!
BadwulfBalkan is the Reddit user of this story, and they are not having a good time with their mother living with them. At this point, if their mother is keeping clothing that is almost twenty years old, it may be time for the user to move out. It is not a good situation to be living together and dealing with the frustration. It would most likely be more beneficial to help their mother while living somewhere else, so there isn’t constant animosity towards her. If that can’t happen then boundaries, need to be set in their living space.
Reddit user sleekstability writes, “My godfather was obsessed with sales and bargain hunting even though he was very wealthy. He would constantly buy things he didn’t need because the price was just so low. Consumer electronics was his go-to. In this fixation and as the 2000s came about, many of them were rendered useless and obsolete a year or two after purchase. He passed away in 2009 after being afflicted with severe dementia since ’05 (right after hurricane Katrina hit).
My mother and I had to sort through his belonging in his garage, and it was like a time capsule. From floor to ceiling, there were VCRs, calculators, digital watches, portable DVD players, and digital clocks spanning the entire room. All rendered virtually useless in modern-day society. The price tags still on them in their original boxes for a dollar or two apiece. Countless yard sales later, we still couldn’t get rid of all of it. I will never need or want a digital clock or watch again in my lifetime.”
Reddit user rpitchford writes, “My Uncle Harry. When I went to visit him at his travel trailer, I would stand in the doorway and keep my feet moving. I did that hat to keep the cockroaches from climbing aboard…” If this doesn’t make you itchy all over, then I don’t know what will. If you can see cockroaches, then your problem is much bigger than you think. Usually, if there is a roach problem, you don’t see it too often. However, if you can see cockroaches, you can bet there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, living where you can’t see them.
Cockroaches can be a massive problem for people living with them. Also — people who have cockroaches are not necessarily dirty, and if you live in an apartment building, it could be because of others in the building why you have a roach problem. However, roaches can carry many different diseases and can make you sick. They can live for a long time as well, living on many various food sources. They will also leave your house smelling very bad – which can be one reason why people who hoard garbage may not notice. It is a vicious circle because the garbage attracts the roaches.
“My now late ex MIL was a full-on hoarder, dog poop everywhere, she died in August, and my ex is still trying to clean her house out, it’s so bad that it will have to be stripped down to the studs to be livable again.” writes Reddit user myeyeballhurts. When it is left to family members to clean up, it can take up a hefty amount of time and a large chunk of money. Unfortunately, for this user’s ex to get any money back, more money will need to be put into the house first. It could even lead to finding more issues down the line.
When you do extensive renovations on the house, you could easily run into problems you didn’t even know about. Mold is one thing that you can find once you start tearing down walls, leading to more teardowns needing to happen. Another common thing to be seen is water damage, which can lead to mold as well. This hoarder may not have been able to notice or smell anything like this. It is for her children to hopefully not find, but by the sounds of it, this was a likely scenario. Hopefully, they were able to sell in a hot market.
17. Journaling is good for you, unless you are a hoarder.
Reddit user LadyNerdosity writes, “I can’t get rid of notebooks. I have boxes and boxes filled with most of the notebooks I’ve ever owned.” Now, most of us may think this is a bad thing, mainly if you write in a notebook all the time. You could fill up a notebook once every month or two or only have one notebook for the year. By the sounds of it, this user was one notebook a month kind of person. Journaling and writing in a notebook can be very calming; it is excellent for stress relief and stress management.
When you write in a notebook this often, they can be beneficial. If you have them organized and can look back on them to look back on what you wrote, this can be a handy tool. Think about when you felt your best; what did you do? What did you eat? If you had this information recorded somewhere, you could go back, see what you were doing or eating at that time, and simply replicate it. You’ve already done it once. Why not do it again and see if you feel better this time around?
16. Carts are for shopping centers, not basements.
Reddit user SearsActivewear shares their hoarding nightmare story and has to do with their mother-in-law. She writes, “My mother-in-law has two rooms loaded with boxes of shi* that haven’t been touched in ten years—floor to ceiling. The basement is also filled. There’s a shopping cart down there, for God’s sake. She refuses to throw anything away as she “might need it someday.” It’s hard to imagine someone taking an actual shopping cart down a flight of stairs, but it happens. Also, why would you need a shopping cart in your basement for a future time? It seems like more hassle than it’s worth.
These are the questions that an average person would ask, but we have to remember, when someone is dealing with a hoarding issue, they are dealing with a mental health issue. It can be hard to stay calm and not get frustrated, but some things seem like common sense they will genuinely believe. Like keeping trash in their living space – most people don’t want to live like that. People must stay calm and patient when trying to help people with a hoarding issue, and you can always reach out to your family doctor for more resources.
Reddit user OhShizWaddup remembers, “A couple of years ago, I had a piano teacher that came to my house to teach me since she lived somewhat nearby and I had a nice piano to use. Eventually, I moved from that house into another, where it was more distant from where she lived, so I had to go to her house for lessons. From the outside, it’s a quaint, cottage-like house. Immediately, when opening the door (not fully), there are newspapers surrounding the inner entrance, huge piles up to 4ft just at the front door. Her living room was on the left, where the piano was. On the window sills, there were loads of teddies, including on the sills upstairs (viewable from the outside). It was low-key creepy. (She was about 70).
Again in the living room, there were stacks of newspapers everywhere. You couldn’t sit on the couch or anything because there were stacks of music books and sheet music everywhere too. It was insanely crowded. I also remember seeing television in there from the 60’s hiding underneath a small coffee table. It was very strange because she never struck me as the hoarder type. It wasn’t all that bad, but it was strange. She didn’t even seem to care about what others thought. It was basically brushed aside and ignored. No fear of judgment.”
Reddit user BlinkDragon explains their hoarding (or could be a savvy spender?) story here: “My roommate’s dad is a bit of a hoarder and uses her as an excuse to hoard things. So whenever she visits her parents, she usually comes home with massive amounts of 4-8 items. In a house with three people living here for about a year, we have never (or almost never) had to buy: laundry detergent, meat, pasta sauce, dressing, vegetable oil, salt, and Crisco. He has also given us a lot of pasta over the years. Unfortunately, he does not take requests.”
That is an example where it could easily go both ways. Most of the listed things are things that either don’t go bad (laundry detergent) or have a long shelf life (pasta, pasta sauce, salt, oil). Sometimes these items can go on for a super clearance price, or if you buy things like these in bulk, you could get significant savings that way too. When you purchase items like these in bulk (canned goods and other household items), it makes sense that the roommate would often get them each time she visited her parents. Alternatively, they could be compulsive shoppers.
Reddit user fearoftrains writes, “My mom’s family (her parents and her brother) are hoarders. They buy tons of stuff all the time that they don’t have a place for, and they never even open half of it. Their houses are infested with mice and roaches, and they have rotting food everywhere. I tried to help my grandparents once, and my mom has tried to help them multiple times, but ultimately, they won’t let us throw any of their stuff away, and even if they did, they would just do the same thing again. We just don’t go over there anymore. It’s sad, but if they don’t want help, there’s nothing that can be done. I doubt the situation will ever be resolved in any real way.”
It is regrettable when you are dealing with family, and they don’t want to receive the help offered to them. Sometimes we feel like we have taken all the steps necessary to help someone, then it is up to them to find help for themselves afterward. Often, this won’t happen until there is a severe health risk involved, which sometimes can be the point where it’s too late. The best thing you can do is stay supportive, but you can’t hold any guilt if they are unwilling to help. They also need to help themselves.
“I used to keep my scabs in a matchbox. I stopped when a friend found them,” writes Reddit user randomcatsoccur. While this habit is gross, it is actually not that uncommon. It falls under the same category as biting your nails, picking at other parts of your skin like pimples, etc. While none of these are good habits to have, and some of them are gross, they are all pretty common. They all fall under the obsessive-compulsive disorder category, and sometimes they can get out of hand. For this Reddit user, it also seems like being embarrassed that their friend found it has made them break the habit.
Picking scabs can lead to way more serious issues, so it is a good thing that this person has stopped collecting their scabs and hopefully picking at them as well. You can cause serious scarring to your skin if you keep picking at a wound. Continuously picking could also lead to infection at the wound site from it not healing, which could spread and cause other issues. This type of behavior is often seen in people who have higher anxiety as well, so it could be beneficial to look into treatments that help ease the feelings of anxiety.
Reddit user seraphynx has not one but two hoarding stories that deal with entirely separate families. While hoarding isn’t extremely rare, it’s not exactly the most common thing either. To have known and experienced two instances of hoarding can be pretty unusual. It is estimated that about 1.5-4.2% of people in the US suffer from an extreme hoarding problem, and 3-8.5% of people in the US are diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. While this number is still in the millions, when you look at the population of the US is over 320 million, it can be uncommon to know several people with a hoarding disorder.
“I only have encounters with hoarders – this very elderly lady who had tiny pathways through the house. It was a very unsafe condition because she could hardly walk. Second situation – some of my neighbors that bought an old, unused house said it was completely packed with stuff, so you couldn’t even go in really – same with all the outbuildings. In the first scenario, her (few) family members seemed to have the same problem and didn’t recognize it as a danger. In the second case, I think the people were foreclosed on or abandoned the home. It seems to be a difficult condition to remedy – even if it is cleaned up, they will just restart their collection.”
10. When social services should step in for the children.
“My husband’s family are hoarders. It messed him up for a long time. Even now, it is really hard for him to process what should and should not be thrown out. His family has three houses, 4 barns, several silos, a paddock, and two fields FULL of absolute crap. If teachers had been paying attention, like at all, CPS would have absolutely taken away the children and put them in hospital.” higginsnburke is the Reddit user who wrote this story, and they are not wrong when saying that child services maybe should have been contacted in this case.
It is hard to say for sure, but judging by the explanation, it may have been time for someone to step up for the children. If there was that much junk in their yard, who knows how many dangerous things the kids could have gotten into. When we are seeing levels of hoarding this bad (several houses full, other buildings stocked, etc.), then it is time for professional help. It is a sad case because not everyone can get this kind of support, unfortunately, and it can be expensive. Even just a cleanup crew with no psychological help would be costly.
9. When you left to deal with the mess, it can be tricky.
“My mom hoarded and never threw stuff away. We moved into this house in 1990 when I was 5. After she died a few years ago, I tried to start cleaning approximately 20 years’ worth of junk. This included meat in the completely full freezer (note, we had three freezers) dating back to 2002. I found medicines that expired in the late ’80s in the kitchen cabinets (implying that my parents packed medication expired years ago when we moved houses for future use). My parents never let me throw away those disposable plastic food containers because “they’re useful.” One day, I flipped and just threw them all out. There were over 200 in the kitchen, and some were cracked and yellow with age. Currently, in the basement, there are cans and bottles and packages of unopened food that had expired years ago and are full of bugs, which is a huge waste.
Last year, I tackled the small hill in the corner of the dining room. I excavated it layer by layer, finding old bulk packages of candy full of bugs, and spring concert programs from elementary school, all these memories in reverse chronological order. At the very bottom, I found an unopened giant box with a brand new microwave in it from about 1990. I used it to replace our current microwave, which was a mammoth from the 1970s with the fake wood paneling and a broken light bulb and required pounding on the number pad to start. I don’t know how to deal with this. I’ve tried to clean the house, but it’s 20 years of stuff that isn’t mine. I’ve worked hard and hardly made a dent.”
“My grandmother is a bit of a hoarder, but thankfully she put it in storage units instead of cramming it in her house and loves to give it away. I used to love it when I was little because I always had fun dress-up clothes. Later I realized that she never threw out my mom’s or aunts’ clothes – that’s what I was always playing with. My aunts have been helping her clear out her garage and many storage units over the years so that it won’t be such a problem. My grandfather was in the military and relocated many times, though. Then my mom says there must be storage spaces all across the country with her abandoned stuff.”
Reddit user fancytalk at least has some good memories to look bad on, like playing dress-up with their grandmother. It is nice to see some good parts of these stories come out because they are primarily negative. Thankfully in this situation, which is even more uncommon, the hoarder has kept their belongings somewhere else, like the storage units. Most cases usually involve hoarders being literally surrounded by their belongings. However, they do have to wait to see about the other storage units, and who knows what will be in there if they haven’t visited them in decades.
AuntIsHoarder is a Reddit user says, “My great aunt is a hoarder. I have not visited her house in a long time because she lives in Canada. Ever since I moved from Seattle in middle school, it is very hard to visit. […] My great aunt lived through the great depression, so we BELIEVE it is ingrained in her to keep everything regardless of its value. She will dig through the trash and find worthless stuff and keep it. Here are some examples. When I was in middle school, we were looking for something to eat. I found a box of fruit loops. Now, as FAR back as I can remember for my entire life, there have at a minimum been four fruit loop colors (red, green, yellow, and orange). The box I found had only 3 (red, yellow, and orange).
My mom told me to go ahead and eat them, saying they would be fine because of the seal. They weren’t fine… Just as well, my cousin got sick because my great aunt made her pancakes with rancid butter. We have found full egg nog containers in the middle of summer. We don’t know how old they are because the expiration date doesn’t list a year. The situation is almost unbearably sad. It hasn’t been dealt with in any real way. She is really old and set in her ways (80+ years old). So really, the only way it will resolve itself is when she dies. […] She mixes valuable stuff in with crap. She might stick a $100 bill or a piece of jewelry in a pile of 20-year-old newspapers (God knows why!?) So basically, we will have to hand sift through every piece of trash, looking for valuable stuff along the way.”
Reddit user bake-kujira says, “My Dad is a hoarder. He and I both collect records. But his obsession is extreme. His house is full of collectibles and memorabilia. Much of it is actually quite interesting, possibly even valuable. There’s just so much of it. There are designated walkways in his house. What’s strange about it is how organized everything is. It’s chaotic but not messy. I’ve tackled my own hoarding tendencies over the past few years for fear of ending up like him. But I feel like I have a firm grasp on it. I go through routine purges where I sell off, donate, & trash things I no longer need or want. I take comfort in the fact that I find the purging a relief. Also, I fear the day my dad passes, mostly because his mountain of stuff becomes my and my two brother’s inheritance.”
Thankfully, with those behaviors and tendencies, he was able to get in check on his own, and the cycle stopped at him. It is good to let things go that don’t bring you joy or serve you anymore. When something you once cherished brings someone else bliss, that is a gratifying feeling. However, knowing that one day he will have to go through all of his father’s belongings is scary. Thankfully it is all organized, and the possibility of it being sold as sets and collectibles is still fair.
“An uncle-whose-not-really-my-uncle was currently moving. He’s a survivalist. The only radio they got was a mass-relayed American paranoia channel, and it got to his head. In his bunker room alone, he has sixty barrels of water. I’m not exaggerating. We counted it. SIXTY. At least thirty packages of toilet paper and paper towels. Copious amounts of canning, most of which I would assume is now inedible. Two tin garbage bins surrounded by live wired to protect electronics from an EMP. Six boxes of Irish Spring from the ’80s. Guns. Good lord, the guns. If it’s legal in Canada, he has it.
I can’t make this stuff up. And his workshop… Jesus Christ… seven tons of screws. SCREWS! The hardware store doesn’t have that much! And I’ve only just brushed the surface. I’m going to find the Ark of the Covenant in there.” Reddit user Drando_HS explains how he is helping a family friend move, and they have a large bunker room. Now, being prepared is one thing, but this takes it to a whole new level! Some of these items, specifically the thirty packages of toilet paper, would have come in handy in 2020 with the pandemic, so there is a silver lining to this story. There is a fine line between stocking up for emergencies and having hoarding tendencies. It is hard to keep yourself in check if you want to be a prepared person but have issues with these behaviors.
Reddit user DubwooferMusic recalls, “My Grandpa called me to ask me to help clean out his deceased brother’s house. I had never been there, but I agreed. As we were driving up the lane, I noticed there was quite a bit of trash in the yard. We got out of the car and went in through the garage since that was the only door that would actually open. This guy had an old Rolls Royce — not sure how he was able to afford it — that was filled to the brim with papers in every seat except for the driver’s seat, which looked like it had been completely eaten away by mice.
Once we were in the house, things didn’t look much better. It was a two-story house, and the first floor was filled nearly to the ceiling with papers. He had been an artist and had thousands of sketches in his house, literally. The upstairs was completely different. The floor was completely empty. There was absolutely no furniture or anything. It was completely bare. The walls of the entire 2nd floor, however, were completely covered with paintings and sketches, from ceiling to floor. I was only able to see part of the upstairs because the floor had rotted and collapsed in the majority of the rooms. It was still pretty interesting, though.”
“My great aunt hoarded porcelain dolls. She ordered them from some TV programs constantly and paid hundreds for some of them. Her house was like a maze of dolls covering every possible surface. When I was little, she brought me through it to pick anyone I wanted to take home with me, and I was excited at the time. I remember trying to find the one I originally liked after going through the whole house, and I just couldn’t pick it out again because I couldn’t tell which it was. It was sad. I still have the doll I ended up choosing, though.”
It is a good thing Reddit user gingeroh is not afraid of dolls, or else her aunt’s house would have been off-limits. One saving grace of this hoarding story is that there is little to no garbage. When you don’t have to deal with waste, you also don’t have to deal with the smells, bugs, or rodents, so this is a win-win situation. A little creepy but still better than garbage. It is hard to imagine how many dolls there were in this house, but there were so many that the Reddit user couldn’t find the doll she wanted… that’s a lot.
This Reddit user, swamperloader, has a bit of a different story than we have heard so far. It doesn’t have to do with any family, friends, friends of friends, or distant relatives. This story actually has to do with his job as a mover. Dealing with hoarders would be a risk you would have to take if you wanted to work for a moving company. However, the moving company should provide all the necessary sanitary equipment you would need for a job like this. Thankfully, it sounds like this story is boxed new items that the hoarder has saved and not trash.
“Furniture mover here; pulled up to a small one-bedroom basement apartment, and thought, “Oh, yeah, easy day.” Wrong. When we walked in, the place was stacked floor to ceiling with brand new in box furniture, with tiny isles in it that you had to walk sideways to get through. The customer was an elderly lady who had been collecting it for years and years, saving it to retire into a really large country house in the middle of nowhere.” Hopefully, this older woman got to enjoy her new furniture, out of the box, in her new country home.
Reddit user bernanner recounts, “Get ready. It’s long. I had some family friends for a long time, even before I started school. The slow progression of their hoarding was something to see. Little things, habits were where it started, and then those seemed to spiral out of control. Some of the things I saw were just disgusting. Toilet paper was never on the roll. But when you picked it up to use it, there were used tissues inside the roll from where someone blew their nose. The washer and dryer in the bathroom were always covered in clothes. Soon, it seemed like they just bought more instead of doing laundry. I remember as a teenager using their bathroom and used pads would be open on top of the trash.
It was hard for me to keep track of how many animals they have: fish, a bird or two, cats, and dogs everywhere. They once got in trouble for a horse in the backyard in the city. They have farm property with more cats and dogs, horses, and goats. On their farm, they built a house about 20 years ago. Outside was finished, but inside never was. It’s full of stuff and would require a lot of cleanups. At some point, the house in town closed on the porch. We watched that extra room fill up. The last time I stayed there, I was probably 13. I’d wrecked my bike, and they offered me band-aids that were soaking in the water on the kitchen counter. I declined. I ate tuna out of the can and yogurt because of the pre-closed seal. That night, I saw meal worms crawling through my friend’s carpet. I went home, and my elbow was infected. Super painful.”