Opinion: Outside In

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Storage Wars

By David Weinstein

Driving by the storage facility on Laguna Canyon Road, I am reminded of something my anthropology professor told me back in my college days. The principal reason most humans fight is over “space” and “stuff.” He may not have put it exactly this way, but this is close. Back then, everything I owned would have easily fit into a carry-on airline bag. This is not the case today. But I do find myself arguing with my wife over space and stuff—specifically a scarcity of space, but paradoxically an overabundance of stuff.

In our household space has become a precious commodity. This is because we are awash in stuff. Most of it is mine. I am the chief clutterer and collector. My wife is the organizer and disposer. Compared to her, Marie Kondo is a bag lady. Forget about whether an item brings joy, or not, if it sits in one place in our house for too long, and does not serve a practical purpose, it’s gone. My wife spent her career managing an army of accountants, and they all abided. The only one she has not been able to bring into the fold yet is me. The garage is still my domain, but the house is hers. I have a recurring nightmare that if I nap too long on the sofa, she will send me out to be upholstered, so that I match the pillows.

Lately she has been on a mission to empty our self-storage unit, a repository of what won’t fit in our garage since I expanded my fly fishing and tool section. She tricked me into visiting it the other day. I got in the car on the pretense that we were going to the liquor store. The liquor store is across the street from our storage unit. So, when she turned left instead of right, I knew something was up.

“Where are you going?” I protested.
“I just need to stop by the storage space to pick something up for the kids.”
“I’ll wait in the car.” I countered.
“Oh, I’ll need help carrying it down.”

Checkmate.

Once in the unit she indignantly demanded, “What is all this junk?” as she tried to squeeze her way through to a box in the back.

“Our legacy?” I answered sheepishly. “Is George Foreman part of our legacy?” She asked. “Because it looks like we have his grill. Along with your Uncle Joe’s golf clubs, a few boxes of CDs, your record collection from college, a turntable and an old stereo system.”

Yes, it is all here, waiting, despite the possibility of me becoming President and being able to donate it to my presidential library having long since passed. I’m storing it away because that’s what you do with your stuff— you keep it because it is imbued with memories. Your daughter’s letterman jacket, and old croquet set, the Whole Earth Catalog, your mother’s fine china, a child’s rocking chair, and pictures of unidentifiable relatives who have long since passed. And you continue to pay the storage fee, which long ago exceeded the value of the items stored, because you’re foolish and perhaps a bit too sentimental.

We load up the box when a thought pops into my head. Perhaps Laguna can have a citywide garage sale advertised to only those from outside the community. Folks could get rid of all those things they’ve been storing for years, and I could get rid of my stuff, too. That would be liberating and free up a lot of underutilized space. All those cars can now park inside newly vacated garage spaces, and we can all argue over what to do with the empty self-storage facilities. I know just the person to organize it.

Heading into the liquor store, I am already feeling duress at the thought of having to part with my long-held treasures. As I approach the tequila aisle and check out the brands, I consider we may need something quite a bit stronger to implement this plan.

David lives in Newport Beach and is a regular contributor to the Laguna Beach Independent.

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