Storage.

Because few of us actually have a dwelling large enough to accommodate our entire life, most New Yorkers cultivate a secondary storage place to keep all their extra stuff. The old Carlin bit is 100% true. And we accept this as a way of life; that a certain portion of our belongings will not make the cut to actually stay in the apartment with us. And so we box up all this junior varsity stuff and move it off site. If you’re lucky, your storage is in your building. Or maybe in your vacation house upstate. But often times it’s in some temperature-controlled metal safe room somewhere in an outer borough.storage1And we pay rather handsomely to bury our stuff somewhere… I think we pay $169/month for our own 65 degree aluminum coffin in Gowanus. I bring this all up because I was at the storage facility very recently (I’m having a baby, which involves a veritable shell game of stuff manipulation within the apartment) and I took a look at all this crap we’re holding and I was struck with the idea that it’s all very strange. What is all this stuff we keep and why is it so impossible to part with it? Like a latter-day Fort Knox, we keep these items under lock and key: mattress and box spring, a Fender amp, formal dresses, an ottoman that looks like an elephant, folding chairs, Grandma’s silver, Marvel comics from 1983-1988, high school yearbooks, a lacrosse stick, CD’s, a chest of drawers, a mic stand, hard cover English literature bought in 1997-2010, framed prints, bags and bags of baby/toddler clothes for girls which we will never again need, toys, old linen, deflated balls, and so on. I’m not a hoarder, but to look at my storage unit you might develop your own opinion.storage2Practically speaking, standing in the doorway of your storage unit is a little like looking at your life in a tin time capsule. Memories, nostalgia, bits of the former you, all of it boxed, bagged and tagged — but mostly it’s the lesser stuff you forgot you even owned. I know how it gets there. All it takes is a fleeting impulse that suggests, “…but I might need this hotplate someday.” And in a suburban existence, this would no doubt be the stuff that finds its way up into the rafters of a stuffy attic or down in a dank basement. But in a land where having a washer/dryer in your apartment is an accomplishment and a $450 parking spot a way of life, I guess it only stands to reason that we would pay a la carte to keep some kind of tether to our own dusty past and be happy to do it.

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