Can I get a do-over, please?
Over the years I’ve confessed to many mistakes, transgressions, errors of my ways. You will never hear me say “I have no regrets.” And of the many do-overs, the one at the top of my list was the day I said to my wife: “Let’s get a storage unit to keep our things while we move.”
I wish I had that day over. I wish my guardian angel had descended from a cloud, appeared in my garage, stepped over the cardboard boxes full of plastic garland, and said “Wait. Hold on. Instead of taking stuff to a 10 x 30 tin shed, consider other options. Start a fire and then have a sale, in that order. Hold a buy one, get a hundred free garage sale. Have your own black Friday but make it a month. Put an ad on Craigslist that says ‘For sale: Jed Clampett’s pickup fully loaded.’ Buy a barge and ship it loaded back home — China. Find a sinkhole and make a deposit. Locate a large Dumpster and do a drive-by. Go to one of those vacant lots near Arrowhead stadium that says ‘no dumping’ and consider whether it leaves room for interpretation.”
No, that didn’t happen. There was nothing angelic about that day. When I posed that question, silence filled the room, crickets chirped and a rooster near Belton crowed three times. Since then, I’ve reflected on my thinking. Obviously it was a moment of weakness. I was lightheaded from carrying plastic tubs of vintage artwork crafted by future Picassos named Keenan. And so shortly thereafter we were loading up tubs and boxes and taking them to a place that, generally speaking, I like to see in my rearview mirror — Martin City (MC). MC has some redeeming qualities, like the Lukas Liquor mega store and the Party City that carries adult costumes (another day, another column). But the storage units there have bad karma.
We dumped it all there and, yes, for awhile, euphoria comes over you. You pull the metallic door shut, lock it and hit the gas. But then on the fifth of the month something changes your mood. Your checking account goes lighter by 228.98 bucks. Other things happen. When you need to return to MC, you can’t find the keys to the lock. When you eventually find them, you forget the secret code that opens the Fort Knox-worthy heavy gate that protects your junk from intruders.
But last week this life chapter ended. We emptied Unit 132. With the help of a pickup loaned to us and a brother-in-law who’s earned a ‘get to heaven free’ card, we brought every last box back to the mother ship. Among the final items was a plastic snowman, perched on top of a plastic storage self, once used to store dollhouses, extension cords and baseball bats. I stared at the snowman, and, like pretty much everything else I had moved to MC, and one word came to mind: “Why?”
And so everything in the unit found a new home, at our new house, rejoining injection-mold plastic toys, cords, electronic games untouched by human hands, VHS tapes and TVs that weigh a hundred pounds.
And in the spring we will rewind history. There will be a sale at our house. Not a garage sale. An estate sale. And in the mix will be the most darling plastic snowman you have ever seen. A keepsake. Priced ready to move. And someday many years from now, it will land in a familiar spot. Not far from Unit 132.