Clutter Note:
How Sweet It Is
26 February 2018

How sweet it is to read Gaby del Valle’s self-storage piece at The Outline — and to know that I’ve put all that behind me. 

It is now six months since we emptied the storage room — and it was a room, the largest unit available — and two months since we finished paying for having it emptied. We had rented it for about eighteen years. For a long time, you know, I expected it to work as a library annex. Three of the four walls were lined with student shelving — pine planks and breeze blocks — and they were indeed crammed with books. But there were whole years in the first decade of this century when I did not visit even once. The place was a library dump: I was storing books on behalf of Housing Works. It ended up costing nearly a thousand dollars just to get rid of the shelving. 

I had hoped that the euphoria would last longer. But in fact I never think about it. I’ve forgotten what it was like to feel guilty about letting the stuff just sit there, year after year, in a space that was zooming up toward four figures a month toward the end. It was therefore a really huge joy to read about somebody else’s storage problems — not for the Schadenfreude, but just for the reminder that the misery was behind me. 

Del Valle reports that there are “Four Ds” associated with self-storage. There is much disagreement about the fourth D, but the first three are unvarying: death, divorce, and dislocation. It was dislocation — selling our lake house in Connecticut and having nowhere else to put all the stuff that remained when the furniture and valuables were removed (which ought to have been a hint) — that sent us to Manhattan Mini-Storage. I have nothing unpleasant to say about Manhattan Mini-Storage. They can’t be faulted for setting things up so that they keep making money. It was simply bad timing: when I was growing up, there was no one to tell me that there are no garbage receptacles at self-storage facilities. 

Of course, we still have a smaller unit, much less expensive, way uptown. A few boxes of books and two racks of dresses that Kathleen dreams of shrinking into. It’s sort of dumb, I know. But having cleared out of one unit, I know that I can do it again. I know, anyway, whom to call. 


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