Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writer, Interrupted


by Janis Patterson
Our family has always been keepers. Not hoarders, but keepers. Things that are parts of our family history. Things that might be useful someday. Or simply, things that are simply too good to get rid of. That’s how we ended up with a garage full of stuff. And when I say full, I mean full! This oversized two car garage was packed so tightly we couldn’t have fitted an anorexic mouse in there.

Over the years periodically we’d decide to do something about it. We had plans to make it half into an organized storage facility with shelves and steel pallets and half into a workshop (I call it a ‘Boom Room’) for The Husband. We’d make a concentrated but short-lived attempt to get it cleaned out. The local animal-benefit charity shop loved us, because with every attempt they got a nice haul of stuff. But then other things – trips, rocket meets, gun shows, writer’s meetings, that sort of thing – got in the way and the garage would once again slip into oblivion on our radar.

Then not too long ago we realized how long we had been talking about doing the garage and, in a moment of bravado, booked the contractor to arrive on a certain date. Then we looked at the garage and ALL THAT STUFF! Gulp.

Well, there was no way we could sort through all those boxes and bags and suitcases in time to have the garage cleared before the contractor and his crew showed up, so we did the next best thing. We rented a storage room – a rather large storage room – on the edge of town and have been frantically moving things there willy-nilly for the last ten days. We? The Husband goes to his job Monday through Friday and can only work on the weekend, leaving guess who to haul stuff around during the week. Of course, I have a job too – I write, you know – but in the light of the present emergency my computer is getting a nice rest. I’m not. Sometimes life just gets in the way.

My mother did not raise me to be a stevedore, but necessity drives, so during the week I load up my SUV (which seems to be rather ashamed to be carrying such a shabby cargo), drive to the storage unit, unload, return and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Did I tell you I’ve discovered one of the great secrets of the universe? Boxes breed. They really do. After a day of moving I swear there are more boxes in the garage than there were when I started. Sigh.

It doesn’t help that we are dealing with four households – mine, The Husband’s, my late parents’ and what my mother had from her mother’s house. You can name almost anything and we have at least three of them. To complicate matters, my late mother was the family historian who kept all kinds of family memorabilia from photographs to a pump head to plow harrows to an ancient scythe (I’m fixed for costume parties from now on!) to an 1830 blanket box which strongly resembles a recently dug up coffin. We have furniture that came to Texas in a covered wagon in the 1840s and a settee and two chairs that date from my great-uncle’s first term as a State Legislator back in the twenties. I think we are the only house on the block to have our own anvil.

Not all was lost during this last weekend, though. The Husband and I took an entire pick-up load of stuff to the charity shop. And there is method in our madness in carrying stuff away to storage. That way we ensure that only things we wish to keep will come back to the house… and the charity shop is conveniently located between home and the storage facility!


I may not be getting much writing done, but it is a good feeling to know that our dreams of the garage are actually coming true and that our discards are benefiting the scores of homeless animals who so desperately need help. It’s also sad in a way, because I am getting rid of things I would rather not, but have no need of nor space for. There are some things I’m keeping, though, like the anvil. It might be useful someday.

6 comments:

Radine Trees Nehring said...

Third time trying to post here: Wanted to say I love this post and, since the Nehrings are in the middle of a move, can identify with every word. I was so glad to learn that boxes (and their contents) breed. I suspected it.

Jean Henry Mead said...

My condolences, Janis. I also have all the family heirlooms, and moved from a 3,800 sq. ft. house to 2,400. The three car garage barely has room for two cars and one entire bedroom is filled with packing boxes of "stuff" we have no space for. I just finished my latest, novel, and am taking time off to unpack and get rid of the overflow. Somehow. :-)

Rebecca Jean Downey said...

Wow. I feel your pain and wish you luck on your gain! We have the same problem, but is moving your stuff from one place to another really going to help? Just wondering. I fear I will have my world spread all over town. How about you?

Barry Knister said...

Janis--
My wife and I are the only homeowners on our street who keep our cars in the garage. This means we are odd, not them. But that said, I don't think you should take too much comfort in having made just one decision about all your stuff: to hump it off to a storage locker. I see only one solution--you obviously can't do it yourself, so you will have to ask around for a good arsonist. It will be hard for a time after, but eventually you will begin feeling lighter. Freer.

Susan said...

Thanks for your good wishes and sympathies...

Also, be reassured that the storage room is strictly temporary. We couldn't do the garage with anything in it, so it needed to be empty. Only the things we really want to keep are coming home from storage. The rest will go to the animal charity shop, which is conveniently located between home and the storage facility. We've only paid rent for three months, so we have to have it all done by then!

Susan, aka Janis

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

My husband is a hoarder, not way can we get rid of any of his treasures. It will all be left up to our kids.