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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Today At My Storage Unit ...

Recently I was forced to move. "Forced" sounds so negative but the situation was really simple ... my landlord was selling my small rental property to someone who was going to tear down the house and build a annex facility for his business. No hard feelings, really. I just had to find someplace to live ... and quickly.
I made several inquiries and squared away another abode. Then it fell through. So I jumped on my second choice ... and it was gone. So then I turned to my back-up plan. Actually, I had none and my world began to implode.

Luckily, I had a kind older relative (and his wife) who took pity on my situation and offered me the use of a partially-finished guestroom in a partially-finished basement with a partially-finished half bath. For keeping quiet and helping with things around the house, I have privacy and a roughly 10 foot-by-20 foot space that is my home-away-from-what-used-to-be-but-will-never-again-be-my-home. One wall is cinder block, the other three rough wood. There are no wall decorations ... no paint ... but the biohazard-yellow "Radon Flow" pipe that transverses the room does brighten the space. Above me are the water pipes for everything in the house ... toilets, showers, sinks, washer. If liquid moves, I know it. And just overhead where my bed is located is the screen door to my relatives back deck. It is an "older" door, riddled with the architectural equivalent of arthritis and deteriorating joints. The sound produced by opening and closing this entrance makes my knees and shoulder hurt, and my relatives use their deck A LOT!!

If I sound ungrateful, believe me, I'm not. I was in an unbelievably scary jam and my family came to my rescue. I was on my way to becoming "modernly homeless," and these kind souls bailed me out. It's a debt I'm not sure can ever be adequately repaid.

So here I am ... me and my 10X20 filled with my queen-sized bed; a small dresser; a desk for my laptop and "officey" things; a floor lamp; a bedside cabinet to house another lamp, alarm clock, and space for my Ipod and phone to charge; two book shelves crammed with clothes, printer stuff, toiletries, and my favorite small non-stick skillet; an old recliner; and three stacked-up totes full of "might-need" items.

Ironically, this experience led to my need for a temporary storage space for the remainder of my acquisitions. I say "ironically" because, although there were dozens of facilities from which to chose, I made my decision based on proximity and cost and ended up with the last unit available ... good ol' No. 23 ... a 10X20 just like my new digs.

Now the battle began. Either in my head or from advice from my friends and siblings, the questions flew ... Where did all this stuff come from? How do you fit the contents of a roughly 1,335 square foot house into a space 85 percent smaller? What will I need to keep close for the next few weeks or months? Are there things I could sell? After 10 years in this house as a typical aggressive American consumer, are there things I'm just hoarding or keeping for no reason? Who can I sucker into helping me with all this packing and moving?

I didn't really have a choice, so I called in all my favors and basically promised to do anything in return for moving assistance. It is so true about weeding out good friends from acquaintances by asking for either a) help in moving or b) a ride to the airport. To be honest, it was my family yet again who rose to the occasion and worked like mules to make it all happen in the time I had remaining. It was also their constant nagging and harping ... comments such as "Why're you keeping that thing?" and "Nobody wears those kinda jeans anymore!" and "Throw that lamp away, you're not moving into a whorehouse." ... that allowed my to make tough choices and rid myself of a bunch of baggage. So after five full days of sorting, marking, folding, boxing, trashing, shredding, dumping, lifting, conveying, maneuvering, and stacking, my decade of trappings were stored away into a 10 foot by 20 foot metal box, surprisingly, with room to spare.

After nearly two months (and I am zeroing in on a sweet new apartment), I find I kind of like the spartan, day-to-day living-without-a-lot-of-extras routine. It's freeing. It has also reminded me what a crazy bunch of hoarders we Americans are, and emboldened me to make a few suggestions to anyone reading this post.

No, I'm not gonna ask you to go rent a storage space or build a shed in your backyard, but do consider all the items in your life that you regularly make excuses about ... like the stacks of magazines you're "gonna catch up on" or the boxes of clothes you're "going to fit into one way or another." Simplify and help others. Donate those clothes to a needy charity ... there are plenty of them out there. And ask your doctor or dentist if they have any interest in some fresh magazines for their waiting room (and if you're a bit on the pervy side, be sensible). And household items ... I had two toasters, three blenders, an electric carving knife that had never been out of its box, a punch bowl I mistakenly took from an old job, and enough silverware, plates, bowls, coffee mugs, and stuff to feed about 30 people. And Tupperware ... when was I going to storing food for the next American Idol fan luncheon. Every duplicate item, things I couldn't imagine using in at least one year, and everything but service for eight, went to a church bazaar. I also took a few hours to go through my books, CDs, DVDs, and other items like cookbooks and college texts that were just taking up space. If I didn't absolutely love it or needs it, it went to the library. I'm proud to say my local community library received 400 paperbacks, 58 CDs, 75 DVDS and VHS tapes, 28 text books, and 13 graphic novels from yours truly.

And all those things that needed fixing ... fans, clocks, vacuums, paint sprayers, hibachi grills, lawn chairs ... trashed!!

My hope is that when I secure a new place, I can make it spacious whether it has a lot of square footage or not. And I'm going to try my damnedest to not become bewitched by media messages and pretty store displays, thus falling back into my consumerist ways. Well, maybe a new workstation so I can spread out a little more when I work from home ... or maybe a nice flat screen TV to save some space ... or maybe just one or two ...

POINT OF RANT: Simple is often best.

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