I’ve been thinking what the cold, musty-smelling storage place reminds me of this week as the little girl and I have carted four boxes at a time over there.
Ours is a giant warehouse of tiny garages, all filled with people’s lives, secured only by a padlock from the hardware store down the street.
What a strange thing we do: Pack up our stuff and put it in storage. I can’t help asking myself every second I’m packing, “Am I really going to want this four or five months from now when I go back to storage to retrieve it? If I’ve lived without it for that long, will I ever really need it?”
I know the answer, yet I pack up and haul it all anyway.
At our storage place, the ceilings are tall. The floors are cement. The lights are on some sort of automatic timer; they turn on only when you near the area right below them. So most of the time? You’re hauling your life on a squeaky wooden cart with a freezing metal handle that leaves your hands smelling like dirty copper IN THE DARK.
With a 2-year-old.
This morning, we took the little boy to first grade and skipped the gym so we could head directly to Storage (perhaps, these non-proper-noun places should be capitalized anyway for all their … glory?).
Usually, I pull up to the gigantic warehouse of beige and type my code into a wobbly keypad, which makes a garage door rise so I can pull my car inside to unload. Today, someone else was already in the small unloading area. So the little girl and I parked outside.
“Morning,” I said.
The man wasn’t rude but also wasn’t interested in engaging in any sort of small talk, which is fine. You all know how I feel about small talk.
As I carried my boxes past this man (four trips), my daughter in tow, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy. The ominous feel of the place, the not knowing what’s actually in all those rows of tiny garages … the idea that someone could easily put SOMEONE ELSE in one of those garages, back behind the rows of cardboard boxes and Rubbermaid totes and kids’ toys and couches you should just replace instead of carting around everywhere, and no one might ever know you were there.
The man, a heavyset guy in his late 50s, ignored us as he tied a queen-sized mattress and box spring to the top of his sedan, the white cushion billowing over the side of his car. The white rope he was using littered the ground. I pictured the little girl tripping over it, the boxes in my arms preventing me from catching her, if I even could anyway.
We loaded our rickety cart and headed into the dark, down the long hallway to the end before turning left, down another long, dimly-lit hallway. We stopped at our tiny garage, unloaded those parts of our lives and then headed back.
The man was gone. Somehow, that made it all even creepier.
We punched in our numbers, that giant garage door opened and we escaped back into the real world. Back into the real light and the real air, buckled safely in our car, headed back home.
Even if it’s not ours for much longer, that notion of home – even heading there – is a comfort I hope I can always find. No matter where home is.
No matter where we store those pieces of our lives, those reminders of ourselves.