Storing Things for Friend A

December 11, 2009

In 1998 I lost my apartment and moved everything I owned into a storage unit.  This began my four year period of semi-homelessness.  The storage unit is a symbol of that dark time, and I’d love to stop renting it.

Around mid-1999, Friend A‘s mother was selling her house and moving to a small apartment.  Friend A was living in another state, but still had things stored in his mother’s garage and basement.  This was the house he grew up in, so it was a collection of mementos, books, projects, files, business inventory, etc. from the first 40 years of his life.  The house was sold, and the stuff had to be moved.  Friend A came back to town looking for a local place to temporarily store it because he didn’t have the space or resources to move it.

My storage unit cost me the same monthly fee no matter how much was in there, and it was not full.  So at the time it made sense to “temporarily” put Friend A’s stuff in my storage unit.  And it stayed!  The unspoken agreement was that as soon as he “hit it big” in business and had a place to move it to, it would be taken back.  To make a long story short, that didn’t happen.  He’s now living on the opposite side of the country, and not communicating much.

The storage unit was untouched for years because it was a sore subject.  I know what it’s like to have the entire contents of your personal history, your plans and dreams, packed away.  It’s like a lifeline, a connection with the potential that your dismal situation can possibly get better.  A point was reached a couple years ago when I could no longer tolerate the insanity of this situation.  I was able to overcome the need to keep hope for the future in boxes, by re-examining reasons why I kept everything.  And understanding that my life is in my mind & body, not in storage.  Made it my personal mission to stop renting the storage unit and began to sort through and get rid of things.

Didn’t touch Friend A’s stuff at first, but to stop renting the space I had to find a way to handle it.  Tried talking to him about it, but he always changed the subject or he suddenly had to go.  Probably the same issues I used to have about not being able to deal with having a “life” in storage.  I was willing to work with him long distance to sort through things via phone, email, and digital pictures.  Then ten months went by with no contact.  Things were damaged because the unit isn’t climate-controlled.  Some mold, rust, cobwebs, rodent damage.  Everything has a musty smell.

Goal was to reduce the physical volume of boxes to make it more manageable, so they could be shipped out or given to a member of his family.  I was afraid that if a family member saw the huge pile of musty boxes they would be as overwhelmed by it as I was and just walk away.  Decided that my approach would be:  For stuff that was merchandise or raw materials, sell it to help recoup some of the storage costs.  If it was hard to sell or ship, give away via Freecycle.  If it was garbage or something that could easily be replaced, throw it away or recycle.

Personal stuff was difficult.  Tried to keep only what was truly valuable and non-replaceable.  Started this process, but reached a point where I could not decide if something was a treasured memento or picked up at a garage sale (because it wasn’t my stuff!)  Without his input, the project stalled.  Gave up on it last May.

In recent months Friend A has sent a few emails, so at least I know he’s alive.  My stuff is all out of the storage unit now.  I’m continuing to pay rent just for his boxes.  My sister said tell him if he can’t pick it up by a certain date then it gets tossed (but I know for a fact that he can’t, even if he wanted to).  Told parts of this to a co-worker, and she was surprised I held onto it this long – thought I should throw it all in a dumpster.  My brother said he thinks I should have a big bonfire and burn it all up.  What do you think?


4 Responses to “Storing Things for Friend A”

  1. […] detailed in this post, the friend boxes are mostly still in storage.  I reached a point where I could not continue with […]

  2. […] the great purge of 2008, the space was being used primarily to store boxes for a friend.  One idea to clear the storage space was to buy a vinyl garden shed and erect it inside the barn […]

  3. simplydeviant Says:

    I know this is a moot point now but in my opinion they OWE you for all the money YOU spent to store THIER stuff all these years. You were taken advantage of. No excuses that is fact.

  4. […] Storing Things for Friend A December 2009 3 comments Posted by bakelite doorbell Filed in Uncategorized Leave a Comment » LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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