Take your stuff and leave it where it is
The lock clicked as I turned the key and then I pulled open the big metal door.
"I forgot what this was like," I said as I looked at my wife, who was looking at me in disbelief.
"I thought we had cleared quite of bit out of here," she said referring to a time last year when my son had come down from the Uintah Basin to take some of his things out of our storage unit.
"I think someone added water and it is growing," I said.
There before us lay everything from old chairs to books, broken desks to tin cans. It was full, full, full.
"We have had this unit for well over five years and some of this stuff we have not touched since we put it in here," I said as the heat from inside the unit blasted us.
The key word here is stuff. Have you ever thought about that word and what it means? The word can either be used as a noun (you know the items that are in a place or a bag or a can or a truck or a ...) and as a verb (to fill something with something).
This can get confusing, can't it? You can stuff a turkey, but you can't stuff it with the same things you can stuff in your backpack. Verb and noun, noun and verb.
There has been a lot written about stuff. You know, stuff doesn't necessarilly need to be an animate object, it can be things that happen or a situation. That is stuff too.
A common saying is "stuff happens." Well those are occurences as well, but those two little words can be used to refer to the past ("My car has lousy tires and I might get a flat, but stuff happens.") to the present ("I'm pretty tired and I don't feel like tightening the lug nuts on the spare very tight because I will just have to pull them off tomorrow when I get the regular tire fixed. I don't think that will matter") or it can eventually refer to a future event ("The wheel fell off my car while I was pulling up and it went through grandma's front room window.")
Yes, stuff. We all have it. Probably the funniest referral to stuff I have ever seen is a routine that comedian George Carlin did about stuff a number of years ago. Carlin, who had a propensity to always end his routines with some kind of lewd description or action, this particular time kept it pretty clean. He even talked about storage units and how the industry has grown up because we all have too much stuff to keep in our houses. The master of lists, Carlin, ran down how stuff is important to us in a methodical way, making anyone who hears him really feel silly about how much we all have.
However, I would not feel silly about having a whole storage unit full of valuable antiques. Instead I have a unit filled mostly with stuff I am storing for kids (no value there except sentimental) broken funiture that will never be antique because it won't make it that far, supposed collectibles (yeah right), personal papers (I will save my fourth grade report card forever, but no one else will) and boxes filled with who knows what. The reason for the last one is that it was so long ago since we put them in the unit that no one can remember what was in them. Had to be valuable though, right?
"Okay as I look at this, and think about what we are paying per month, we could have bought everything in here about three times over since we rented it," I said.
"Well we need to get time to go through it, and pack the rest home and put it in the basement," said my wife.
"Okay, when will that time be?" I asked. "In the summer it is too hot in these units to sort it out. In the winter it is too cold. In the fall and spring? We try to be outside to enjoy ourselves when the temperatures are right. When is there time?"
She looked at me, knowing I was right. We probably would never do it. It would be hard work, frustrating work and it would come to a halt every time we found one of the kids toys or a picture they drew when they were in school. One way or another it would never get done.
"You know what?" I stated as kind of a question. "I think we will just keep paying the money and let the kids worry about it when we die."
I pulled the door down and suddenly we heard a crash from inside. Some box, high up on a tipsy stack, somewhere deep within the recesses of our unit had fallen. It sounded like glass breaking.
"Stuff happens," I said as we walked toward the truck.