Empty Storage Unit

June 30, 2010

Maybe it hasn’t sunk in yet, but this monumental day is finally here.  Last weekend I moved the last few boxes out of my rented storage unit and handed in the key.  My key ring now has 3 keys instead of 4, and I notice it every time I pick them up.  May not fully realize it until after July 1st when I don’t send in the monthly rent check.

The storage unit was originally rented in August 1998 when I was forced by economics to leave my last apartment.  It was just supposed to be for a few months while I got established in a new place.  That was during my “down and out” period and it was the beginning of being semi-homeless.  At the time I believed that “my life” was packed away in storage, and that my “life” would be on hold until I put all that stuff into another apartment.  That’s bullshit of course, but ten years ago it seemed very real.  It was a dark time, and since I have climbed up out of that darkness the storage unit has been a connection to my past, a reminder of how I’m not really free.

After 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 here at the house where I’m staying.  I didn’t do that because they are expensive and I couldn’t find one the right size.  So I kept sending those rent checks every month, not knowing what to do.

A few weeks ago I got fed up with the situation and decided to move the stuff into the barn without a vinyl container.  I was going to build a platform out of 2x4s and plywood sheets and stack the boxes on top.  Before I bought the wood for the platform, I was in a hardware store just to get some window screen patches.  Outside the store was a stack of wood pallets, free for the taking.  I took two and put them in my car.  I then organized the stuff in the barn to make space on the floor and put the pallets down.

I knew that some of the boxes had mold growing in them.  If I started sorting through the boxes, trying to decide what to keep, I’d get caught in the same trap as last time – not knowing which objects were more important than other objects.  So my approach this time was to open each box and look.  If there was mold inside, the whole box got thrown away.  If it was just musty smelling, it passed.  Decide on a per-box level based only on condition, not importance.  I did this at the unit and tossed the bad boxes in the dumpster at the storage facility.  Five boxes were tossed, about 10% of the total.

Over the next two weeks I made many trips hauling stuff back to the house.  A staging area was set up in the garage.  There each box was wrapped in a new plastic garbage bag and then carried back to the barn to be stacked on a pallet.  The last boxes were moved out last weekend.

It is crazy that I’m still holding onto stuff for my friend while he wanders out in the desert. But at least now I’m not paying extra money each month to do it.  And more importantly, now I am free of the connection to that unfortunate time in my past.

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5 Responses to “Empty Storage Unit”

  1. David Damron Says:

    AWESOME….Congrats. Ridding the storage unit is a big step to a simpler life that is more about life than stuff.

    Keep it up…

    David Damron
    The Minimalist Path

  2. David Damron Says:

    P.S. You need a contact link and a twitter account to get in contact with. I have no idea how to get in contact with ya.

    David Damron


    • Thanks for commenting David. This blog was started without a contact link because it was anonymous. I was afraid of how friends, family, coworkers might react to this because I don’t talk about my packrat-ism in public. Maybe I can add a twitter link, that’s a good idea.

  3. Louise Says:

    This is huge! Congratulations, what a massive step in the right direction. I hope you recognise how encouraging this is for the rest of us.


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