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©September 1998

Carol Jane Remsburg

 

 

 

PAK N STOR R NOT US

 

 

 

There is a building behind our tiny though newly expanded house that has been both a boon and a bane over these many years.  It’s done a mean array of duties that even make her shingles frown.  It’s our garage. 

 

For years I blissfully turned a blind eye and paid not an iota of attention to it other than to park the car and hide out the castoffs that hadn’t yet ripened into trash.  However, these last few years have been a decided wake up call.

 

For the first year, not only were we sans child, but we were also sans much clutter.  That was before I really knew how much of a pack rat my hubby was.  To him, this two-car garage plus workshop sold him on the property.  It was easily as big as the house.  It’s nice clean cement floors bespoke of care and attention.  The place had a rather musty smell as all garages do, yet it was airy and tidy. 

 

First came the sad sack face.  He had not enough tools to fill it.  So, armed with the family Lowe’s card, and years of buying ahead of him, the walls literally began to close in on me.  There were electric doors put in place, a dividing wall of the his and hers was installed too.  Somehow I ended up with all the yard equipment, then an enormous shelf at the end of my space to house some of his items with the lawn stuff tucked away beneath it.  Still, my car fit, but it began to get a bit claustrophobic. 

 

His side, room for another vehicle and a workshop, began to take on the appearance of the Yankee Workshop without the luster.  There were the odd extra shelves and cabinets that he put into service when others didn’t want them any longer.  It was a real mishmash of styles, yet functional.  An old refrigerator was installed, a telephone extension, a good stereo, heat, and he even managed to string the cable out there for television reception.  All he needed was a couch and he could almost live there.  Eventually he did get a couch, but it didn’t last long.

 

This spot became my husband’s hideaway.  It was where he worked on projects for home and for others, usually others.  It was where his buddies always congregated and could enjoy the more relaxed standard than the “house” manners.  For nearly two years, other than via the intercom system, yeah, I forgot to mention that too, I didn’t see much of him.

 

By then, “my” side of the garage was gone.  The car had lost her home and was then left to the elements.  I came home one day and there were supplies for a “job” that were where my car was supposed to be.  It was going to rain later, he explained, so they had to be inside.  I shrugged it off at the time.  The car never made it back under shelter.

 

Then something quite strange began to happen.  Family members and friends one after another began to move and would “temporarily” need a place to house some of their precious items.  After 10 or so months, we knew the stuff wasn’t that precious to them.  Sometimes it took more than several calls to have the visiting mess excised from our own. 

 

Our all time storage winner was over two years.  Our surprise was when they brought the extras.  Sometimes we received special gifts—like their weekly trash.  There were several bags, neatly wrapped, the clear kind so you know what’s inside.  There would be the prerequisite eggshells and coffee grounds, dinner leavings, empty cans, and the telltale junk mail.  At least we knew then “Whodunit.”  Granted, it had gotten a little cramped in there, but a dumpsite it wasn’t—yet!

 

More years passed, the alien visitation finally ceased.  However by that time, we had no room for others.  We had too much stuff ourselves.  After 12 years, the poor garage stood bulging at her restless seams.  Then we got the bright idea to renovate the house and add rooms.  So you know we shuffled nearly everything mobile and mostly necessary to our favorite hiding place.  The exodus began in early October of last year.  When Christmas came and we could once again almost live in the house, many items found their way back, but not all.

 

Winter passed into Spring and Summer when we could finally finish up the porch and a few other areas when time and monies permitted.  Still, the garage was a bulging, bloated bomb about to labor forth some kind of hideous mutant of all our belongings.  It was then Hubby knew we must move on it or something really bad was going to happen.  The 10-yard dumpster was at the ready.  He also knew this would be the first day I’d have to relax in over a month, but he niggled me about it the day before, “Just an hour or so,” he said.  He also said it with that smirky little smile of his.  He knew he had me and I couldn’t refuse for the kind of guilt he can mete out just can’t be born.

 

After coffee, the very early morning kind, we trudged out into the oppressive humidity to face the unfaceable.  For me, unless it’s a family heirloom or I have a real attachment of sentimental value on an item, then it’s history.  Still vaguely serviceable shoes and old sweaters, frayed sheets, blankets, and towels, the aging toys of great and small, unique appliances (like the food dehydrator and juicer) that my spouse once espoused, hit the pile in a frenzy.  Even with his face now pale from the trauma of withdrawal, he wouldn’t let me quit.  That “hour or so” grew and blossomed until it ate most of the day.  By nearing 3 PM, I couldn’t hack the heat any longer.  We’d finally cleared out my side of the garage and made a slight venue into his.  The dumpster burped twice and leveled out as we “racked and stacked” (Hubby’s term). 

 

I had become a melting blob of odiferous sweat from the pitching, evicting, and sweeping up.  Air actually had begun to circulate again in that old garage taking with it that malevolent atmosphere of pending doom.  The ticking had stopped.  The bomb was no longer.  Oh, there will be another foray out there to make his little hideaway homey again, but that’ll wait another week.  Now, the only ticking comes from the dumpster man who measures his $2 days a wait until he can feast upon the weight of his prize.

 

Yeah, the garage will finally house my car once again, but for how long?  This place will never, ever become a Pak N Stor.  So, if anybody’s moving, just remember we don’t really live here and we don’t have a garage either.  I simply can’t afford the fees.

 

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