The sign promises “Free Stuff” and our brisk walk is put on hold so Ben can rummage through someone else’s crap on the side of the road. He seeks treasures in these boxes but I do not join him as he browses. I throw the word hoarder at him but he chooses to let it bounce off him and he walks away from the pile with a new book, trinket, or toy in his hand and he offers me his other.
Ben’s bookshelves are tightly packed with cookbooks, novels, DVDs, VHS tapes, and comic books. Boxes with kitschy packaging, bobble heads and doodads of all shapes and sizes line another shelf. A dried rose in a crystal vase sits in the middle of the shelf, a gift from a girl before I came around. The art he chooses to adorn the walls with is ‘found art,’ all curbside treasures. Two large windows illuminate his closet, packed neatly but tightly with clothes. As for the floor, it is also an assortment of clothes, only not so neat. He saves letters, envelopes, pens, hole punchers, wires to who knows what, flashlights, and batteries. Almost everyday he adds something to the room . . . .