For My Husband and Me, Clutter Brings Us Closer

published Nov 14, 2023
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Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez

Recluttering is a celebration of your stuff — stuff that you just want to hold on to, stuff that makes you happy, stuff that makes you feel nostalgic for a moment, a memory, or a loved one. We’re sharing stories from people about their collections, heirlooms, and more. Head here to read them all!

Since childhood, I have appreciated keeping things neat and tidy. I remember looking forward to spending a Saturday morning as a preteen reorganizing and decluttering my closet, and to this day I revel in the joy of getting rid of things and making my space clean. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I came to appreciate clutter and what it could represent. 

When we first started living together, I noticed Dave didn’t like to let go of his possessions, regardless of their usefulness or condition. I suspected this might be an issue, considering that I feel the opposite way when it comes to most material things, but combining our things has taught me how to value sentimentality and appreciate stuff.

Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez
My air plant and air plant holders, Saint Keanu Reeves candle, and mariachi hat were all gifts from friends. The Latinx and Pale Man hands from “Pan's Labyrinth” pins encapsulate who I am. These all live next to Dave's Comic-Con exclusive BPRD neon light.

In the decade we’ve been together, my husband, Dave, and I have amassed trinkets and collectibles from our travels together, annual San Diego Comic-Cons, shopping trips, and anniversary gifts that are displayed on our bookshelf and Dave’s desk. It’s difficult to imagine now throwing away a $10 bracelet he gifted me for our first Valentine’s Day together or a votive candle he got me on a random day because he knew I’d like the art on the vessel. 

While I still love to declutter and clean on a regular basis, there are a handful of things I would never dream of tossing (I hardly light my Saint Keanu Reeves candle that was a gift from a friend so I can keep it preserved). Over time, I have applied this sense of sentimentality and importance to other trinkets including clay calaveras I bought in my parents’ home country of Mexico, air plant and succulent planters, small decor from our wedding like our cake topper, and novelty photo holders. Because our home’s aesthetic isn’t totally defined, all of these trinkets fit in effortlessly with the rest of our decor and design.

Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez
Another Comic-Con exclusive, Dave's Batman figurine by Mike Mignola stands next to a clay calavera and papier-mache calavera mask from our wedding.

Dave, on the other hand, is a more seasoned collector and has always proudly displayed his “clutter.” His desk and the shelf above it house video game and comic book figurines; baseball bobbleheads; a replica pistol from Firefly, one of his favorite shows; and taxidermy beetles. In the four years we’ve lived in this apartment, I noticed that Dave’s desk area has not only become a shrine to his favorite collectibles, but also to gifts and birthday cards I’ve given him. I have also unknowingly managed to add in a few of my own trinkets, like a shark magnet and a rose I caught during a concert of my favorite musician. This combination of what would generally be described as “stuff” has really been a way for Dave and I to mesh both our love for our interests and love for each other. 

Credit: L. Daniela Alvarez
Dave's desk is a collection of bobbleheads from his favorite team, the San Diego Padres; an artisanal glass decanter we bought in Oaxaca; Comic-Con collectibles; taxidermy beetles; and art prints I've gifted him.

Before meeting Dave, I might have tossed that cute votive candle or donated a bracelet that wasn’t my style anymore. Combining our clutter has become somewhat of a love language for us. And although our bookshelf and Dave’s desk could technically be less crowded and more minimal, this clutter is true to us — separately and together.