Friday, July 6, 2012

Forced Minimalism

When life hands you lemons, pick up the lemons, cut them open and throw them in life's eye.

Most of the things that are important to me are in storage in Jersey City. The worktable I bought from Pottery Barn about 10 years ago. The three-wheeled bike that my ex bought me for my birthday a few years ago. My Tivoli table radio. My dishes, glasses, CDs and DVDs, books, all the usual things that make a house a home.  I've had items in storage before but never for very long. This time around, it's been 18 very long, very difficult months. I've missed my things and now it's almost time to retrieve them for good.

So I went to my storage space a week ago to prepare them for the Big Move and found to my horror and disgust that a rat had somehow gotten into my unit. Over the past 18 months, I've had several purging sessions with the help of my daughter. I had placed the purged stuff in large black plastic bags -- which apparently are appealing to rats. My boxes seemed to be undisturbed but the bags showed definite signs of being mauled and when I opened one of them, I found -- tada -- rat poop.


Needless to say, Rat was not in the unit; he'd done his damage and left, thank whatever deity there is -- because if he'd been in there, I'd have had a coronary right then and there.

So. I called the manager of the storage facility. I was advised that they have regular exterminator visits and that I should make my claim with the storage company's insurance company. I called them and got a very sympathetic person who advised me to take pictures of the bags and to try to list the damaged items as best I could. I have no desire to go back into the bags and sort through rat poop, but he suggested that I look for similar items online and list those with the appropriate cost.  I also called the corporate offices of the national storage company and told them about the rat issue. They gave me the name of the regional manager who told me that he would advise the manager that I could leave behind any bags that were damaged and they would dispose of them, despite their 'no-public-garbage-dumping' policy. This storage facility is the only one I've ever used that did not have a dumpster on site. They expect you to take your garbage with you.  In this instance, however, the regional manager assured me that they would take care of it.

Called the storage facility again today to confirm that the regional manager had spoken to the manager and that my file was updated with all the information. The assistant manager told me that he did see some info about the rat issue in my file but NOT about leaving the garbage behind. He said that was "unusual" since they usually do not allow anyone to leave their trash. He said he would speak to the manager to make sure that the regional manager had gotten in touch.  Have not heard from him.

I have not named the storage facility -- YET -- because I want to see how this plays out. I am moving out on Sunday, July 8, 2012. I will call the facility tomorrow. If all is well, I will name the facility and report the good news. If I am met with resistance, I will name the storage facility and bad-mouth them from YELP to Google to any and every other place I can think of.

Did I mention that I got a letter from the insurance company today advising me that they do not cover rodent damage?

If anything else is damaged aside from the things I care most about, I will leave it there despite their 'no public garbage facility' policy and if the storage company balks, I will, as I said, make them regret it as best I can.

I've been feeling highly stressed about this and about the move in general all week and this morning, it reached a crescendo. I felt weepy and out of sorts for most of the morning... but by afternoon, I had some kind of slow-motion epiphany.

I can live with less. I need to de-clutter my space and my life. Having dealt with horrific financial difficulties in recent years, I have had to leave many things behind that were once important to me... and I have learned that many things are just... things.  People can never, ever be replaced but most things (furniture, books, Christmas ornaments, knickknacks) are replaceable. And when you don't have them or you don't see them because they are locked away in storage, you forget that you have them. And when you forget that you have them, you can't miss them, and you don't.

In the past six months, I have had to start my life over again. This is not the first time, but I hope, I hope, I hope it will be the last.  New job, new apartment, new neighborhood, hopefully a new man is in my future...?..... and maybe I will have to start over yet again with fewer things.

But it feels kind of okay. I have more than my share of emotional baggage but  I have been slowly but consistently shedding it. I no longer want or need to have a pile of insignificant things pulling me under. I am seeking a simple, uncomplicated life. And I will have it.


  1. Wonderful post Lee. So glad I saw the link on my page. May you have all the best blessings in your new home!

  2. Wonderful post Lee. So glad I happened to see the link on my facebook page. I like your writing style and really appreciated your story and your insights. May you have all the best blessings in your new home. Helen