Wintering in a Storage Unit

For the second Tuesday in a row, the library is closed due to a Nor’Easter – the third Nor’Easter within three weeks -- two weeks?  Tuesdays are the days I spend in my office, the Quiet Room at the library, writing.  I liken that gorgeous spot to a hotel room when you first open the door: There is nothing started that needs to be finished and everything is in its place.  Long tables with lamps and chairs slid under the tables await like soldiers at attention for the morning’s direction.  

Determined not to let the day go by unwritten, I chisel a space in the corner of my home office.  From a side table, I gather pages and pages of travel documents that need to be collated and stapled.  I move piles of scout paperwork to the back corner of the office.  I stack books into a tidy pile on the end table next to me. And now, I need to move them – they beckon to me as a reminder of things that need to be done.  I pivot on my stool and place them on the table behind me.  Out of sight out of mind.  My backpack sits at my feet like a loyal dog.

Now, I think I’m ready.  Ahh, the last item on the table is a yellow sticky pad with a new password.  I move it to a shelf out of my line of vision.  Only my computer and coffee cup fit on the table I sit at.  It faces the corner at a diagonal. And in my peripheral slightly to the right in front of me is a metal basket filled with solid summer memories: rocks from the beach in Kingston, shells from Cape Ann, a desert rose from South Dakota, and one baleen whale tooth from last summer.

After a long winter, the shelves and drawers are full.  It’s no surprise.  It happens every year.  Will was unloading the dishwasher a couple days ago, and after a lot of heavy mug clinking, he was defeated, “There’s no room!”  Indeed, the summer mugs started us off in early September; the fall mugs soon joined; the Christmas mugs followed; the snowmen mugs crept in; the red winter mugs are still hanging on.  Not to mention Bill’s year-round mugs.  I dare not introduce a spring mug until I’ve had a giant reshuffling.  

In the basement room that has had many dubious names: guest room, storage room, craft room, and finally “the room where all the magic happens” – a sprinkling of summer, Halloween, and Christmas decorations lurk having missed the last boat to the garage loft where all the seasonal tubs spend their off-season.  

The mug shelf and kitchen drawers will soon be sorted out because we live in the kitchen and those contents constantly remind me of the need for reorganization.  However, the rooms upstairs… ugh.  Getting ready in the morning, I see the jumble of drawers and cupboards, then I race down the stairs to get the day moving.  Getting ready for bed, I see the jumble of drawers and cupboards, then I do the nightly routine and use what little energy that remains to climb into bed.  The upstairs is like an itch that never gets scratched.

Since Christmas, I have thought of the cupboard under my sink as one of those arcade coin slot machines – the ones where all the coins and prizes are laid out and a little bulldozer constantly pushes from behind.  And if a coin rolls down the slot to just the right place, and the bulldozer doesn’t push it up and over the back row of coins, coins and prizes dump into the tray!  So it was when I was packing to travel at Christmas time.

I needed a new deodorant, so I opened the door under my bathroom sink, and plop!  A new deodorant felt out at my feet!  I was also in search of shampoo and conditioner, so I took one of six baby powders from the top front and tossed it to the back.  Voila! Out from the front came a shampoo -- and a conditioner was stuck right behind it, half visible.  I pulled it out and that’s where the magic ended.  A whole slew of bottles toppled onto the floor.  I shoveled them into the rear of the cupboard and quickly closed the door before the bulldozer had a chance to push the pile again.  I held the door closed for a few seconds, waiting for the last of the thumps on the inside from falling objects.  That cavernous space is good for nothing other than 24 rolls of toilet paper.

At storage overload times like these, I think of my friend and one particular closet in her house.  If her husband is looking for something and she tells him it’s in that closet, his reply is that he would rather go buy it than open that closet door.  That has most definitely become the philosophy with my bathroom cabinet.  Although for the fun of it, I occasionally toss something to the back just to see what falls out the front. 

Here’s to my fellow New Englanders stranded in their storage unit by two feet of blowing snow today!