by Eve Vawter
Growing up, everyone wanted to be Sarah Williams from Labyrinth. Portrayed by the luminous Jennifer Connelly, she got the most screen time with the Goblin King Jareth, portrayed by a spandex-pant clad, lip-glossed, and eye-liner'd David Bowie, who was at once menacing and seductive, offering to be Sarah's slave if she loves him and fears him and does what he says. And you know, give him her baby brother Toby so he can turn him into a goblin. As much as I loved the struggle Sarah faced when she was up against King Tightpants, another character from the movie struck me as being incredibly haunting and sad and foreboding, The 'Junk Lady' who lives in the Junk Fields and attempts to make Sarah forget saving her baby brother by distracting her with all of her favorite material possessions.
As we grow older we need to start making some hard decisions. Not just about our own future but for the future of our elderly parents and relatives. Ask anyone who has cleaned out their junk drawers and closets or donated items or held a garage sale, this decluttering is always brought with sadness and fear and a sense of mortality. When you're deciding to let go of a baby blanket, it's a pretty heavy thing. If you've ever helped an elderly parent move out of their house, you know exactly what I'm talking about. One one hand, we are all terrified of developing a mental illness which we see depicted on every episode of A&E's Hoarders. On the other hand, donating our treasures and our tchotchkes and trinkets can be heartbreaking.
Which is why the Junk Lady is such a badass heroine. She's not a tragic figure — she loves her shit so much that she decides to keep it forever, and not just in her home, but on her freakin' back. There's something to be said for being stubborn and steadfast and saying "I'll get rid of my back issues of Cosmopolitan, but this mixtape I made in 1984? That shit's mine."
I don't think the Junk Lady is homeless (she is probably perfectly happy living in the Junk Fields and doing King Jareth's bidding), and I don't think she is mentally ill. I just think at one point she was probably exactly like Sarah, and when Jareth decided to discard her for a newer model, she decided to take what's hers and leave his magical balls behind.
It's my opinion that you can hold onto what you love, and you don't even have to be all Marie Kondo about it. You can keep things that have meaning to you and you should be allowed to. There's a very big divide between cat-hoarding and saving your favorite things that evoke happy memories. Besides, the Junk Lady got to star in a Bowie music video:
Despite the fact that I did find her sad when I first saw Labyrinth, now I can kind of see her point. I'm totally cool with decluttering, but I'm keeping the things I love close to me, even if I don't wear them on my back.