May 22, 2005
Storage Stories

Pilin' those houses up
Pilin' them higher, higher, higher
Building that highway to the stars
And turning the music up

My project of the season has been cleaning out our storage spaces. We have two: an unreasonably small one in our building, and an unreasonably large one that we rented in 1998 during our panic-stricken flight from a bad landlord. For reasons hard to explain, we have been shelling out more than $100 a month for this space ever since. Until I got tired of it.

So I have been spending my Saturdays in the old warehouse where our space is. We're on the third floor, so a nonplussed employee has to operate a cavernous old-fashioned industrial elevator to get me there. Armed with a bag of tools like post-its, masking tape, scissors, and a cell phone, I have tackled the project.

The goal is to get our old stuff out of there in time for a community yard sale on June 11. Some things will be sold; some things will go to Squatter's Inn; and some things will come to rest in our basement. At the moment we are about two-thirds done, the remaining third consisting of some of E.'s old computer hardware, some miscellaneous furniture, and other things too heavy for me to lift. For this point on E. will be brought out of hiding and enlisted to carry and dispose of them.

There are some interesting, if not disturbing, trends. For instance, we've spent hundreds of dollars storing empty boxes--broken down moving boxes, boxes that used to hold appliances, packing materials, and so on. The same may be said for a large box of old magazines that don't seem very well sorted. OK , so we'll probably keep the old indie rock zines from 10 years ago (E. is a collector) but old copies of Outside and Mojo? I wonder.

One of the most compelling reasons for renting the storage space in the first place was to downsize from a three-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom. Accordingly a fair amount of my personal history went into storage and was not heard from again for seven years. Sorting out this stuff has been the most time-consuming part of the process (why did I save all my old notebooks from graduate school? And where is all the undergrad stuff? No one can answer this.) although evidently easier for me at 38 than it was at 28, when I threw everything into a moving van and figured I'd sort it out later.

To date, I've condensed eight or 10 boxes into two or three. Will I miss the old stuff? Probably not. I always envisioned going through it when I was old. But at the rate we're going I'd never even be able to find it. Most of it wasn't really worth saving, and what remains has been organized, filed, labeled, and stored (or, perhaps inevitably, posted on the Internet). For once in my life, I can throw the past away.

Anybody want an old computer monitor?

Send yard sale tips.

Posted at May 22, 2005 03:53 PM