Get off of your duff and get rid of your stuff

February 18, 2021


Congratulations are in order. My husband and I finally got rid of our mini-warehouse storage unit. We feel like free spirited children skipping through a meadow tossing daisy petals in the air.  

Americans are champions of excess. “We might just need this someday” is the battle cry of society, as if we’ve come through some kind of depression where everyone was starving for junk. 

Gardening tools, the old baby crib, grandmother’s sewing cabinet, it was all there with a beautiful sofa, rocking chair and Christmas decorations we just didn’t have room for now, but may just be able to use … someday. 

My teaching materials labeled, “small motor skills,” “literacy,” and “Shel Silverstein” were arranged in a file cabinet just in case I had to spring back into action in a classroom. I had no intention to ever teach again, but after so much work, who could toss them?

A mass of storage units are being constructed close to our neighborhood and it has to be the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. Other countries build colosseums and fountains, and we build mini-storage units. A second “stor-it-all” is going up within a stone’s throw and it was just announced a former Food World would be divided and used for storage. How much “stuff” do people in this town have? 

The excess sneaks up on you. The children grow up, but you can’t possibly get rid of the Legos. You know you’ll use the baby crib again for grandchildren. The exercise machine doesn’t fit in this house, but the kids will be glad to have it someday. The lamps were grandmother’s and I know a lamp repairman — if I could only find his number.  The next thing we know, we’re at Stuff-N-Shove Warehouse trapped beneath a mattress, bar stools and a box of Tonka trucks.

When Bob and I added up how much money we’d spent on storage over the years, it rivaled college tuition, vacations and movie popcorn for the past two decades. It didn’t matter we also used our storage for business equipment, the madness had to end. 

“It’s too hot to be in here” I told Bob. “Just drink some water and keep going” he sweetly suggested. “What’s this?” “It’s your mother’s scrapbook, don’t open it, it’ll fall apart.” “Why do you need this box of sequins?” “the same reason you need this box of hinges.”  “I think that crazy girl I dated gave me this book.” “Be more specific, they were all crazy.” 

“Listen to these papers I wrote in grad school. I used to be smart until giving birth fried my brain.” “We don’t have time for you to sit and read them now.” “Humph! Your creative engagement in problem solving barely reflects the cognitive functional theories of Dr. Parnes.” 

Truckload by truckload, it was scaled down to a small pile of nice things to donate. The trouble was none of the regular donation centers were accepting items due to COVID-19. We paid for yet another month of rent and clenched our teeth at night. It was bittersweet when the truck finally hauled away the remaining treasures. Our warehouse full of plans and dreams, were now a memory. Except for the Legos. I have them shoved in a guest room closet next to Thomas the Tank Engine. 

This story first appeared in Advance Publication Newspapers

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