Storage Wars: The Contents of Your Heart
How do I get rid of my storage unit? Most of the things in it I no longer need (baby beds, exercise equipment, etc), but there are a few keepsakes I’d like to keep. FYI, my apartment is too small to store any of the unwanted items. What are the best steps to get it all done and be free of the stuff AND the monthly payment?
This is a good question. Because I need to answer it for myself (just substitute “garage” for “storage unit.”) So this is what I would do, and the order in which I would do it.
1. Take the storage unit payments OFF of auto-pay. Mark the date on your calendar when you have to be out of there, creating a non-negotiable move-out date, and hopefully a bit of panic and anxiety. This a good example of how a so-called negative emotional state can be productive, a catalyst to purge- psychological cod liver oil.
2. Go reluctantly to the storage unit one evening, with a friend or partner who will babysit you, accompany you to the Temple of Times Past. That friend or partner, ideally, has well-developed muscles, a good back, a great attitude, and a supportively minimalist outlook on earthly living. Bring one laundry basket, one reusable grocery bag, a pack of Post-Its, and a Sharpie, a flashlight or headlamp, and hand wipes.
3. Open the cheaply built and questionably sealed steel sarcophagus and enter the time machine, with your toned accomplice. Prepare for transport to well-known planetary dimensions, and begin feeling which dimensions you would most like to revisit from time-to-time in the future- perhaps when you are seventy or eighty years old. Pick two or three souvenirs from each realm of the past you would like to remember, and thereby revisit occasionally (I initially said one souvenir, but that felt too Kondo-esque and also dishonest- I’m way too much of a sentimental packrat to recommend one keepsake per era. Emotional cruelty is not a worthwhile strategy.)
4. Choose only as many souvenirs as you can fit into your laundry basket. While I’m a softy when it comes to respecting nostalgia, I passionately believe in the power of constraints. Limits are incredibly powerful fuel for the evolutionary growth-rockets we all want to ride. Restrictions of all kinds stimulate more creativity, more careful choices, and clearer thinking about what truly matters to us. SO you may fill the laundry basket to the rim, the idea being I think anyone can find enough room in an apartment to store a laundry-basket-portion of items.
Two helpful recommendations re: these items you are choosing to take with you:
Try to choose things that you can re-use/re-purpose somehow today: old throw pillows can get an outdoor-proof insert and live outside; a chair or table can be painted and become a non-baby-room furnishing; old plates can become your picnic/Hollywood Bowl set; special baby clothes or artwork can be framed/re-framed… you get the idea (see my post on things to frame.) You’ll notice that I’m bending the rule about a thing having to fit in the laundry basket because a.) my remote viewing skills are not up to CIA-standards yet, and I’m unable to see what your unit contains- could be all dressers and Bowflexes, as opposed to old t-shirts and Thighmasters… and b.) your muscled junking partner is there by your side to help you.
If you find things you absolutely can’t part with, but they can neither be carried away in the laundry basket, nor carried by your beefy friend, (this is where the stickie notes come in) draw a heart on a note and stick it on whichever mega-relic is eliciting the tender moment. I’m going to recommend a cap of three heart notes because you said your apartment can’t handle any more stuff. If you’re breaking into sentimental sweats at the thought of parting with something, perhaps you’ll have to trade it for something you are currently living with, something which is not giving you a nostalgic fever. You will come back to the things with heart notes another day after you sleep on them. I mean "sleep on them" figuratively, not literally*.
(*Wouldn’t that be strange advice? My whole answer to your question could be “Go to your storage unit in your pajamas. Spend the night on your things. Literally ON YOUR THINGS- sleep on them. Then in the morning, close the unit and don’t look back. Screw Things. Reject The Past. Things of the Past will never hold you back again. Laugh icily when you witness the empty desperation playing out on “Storage Wars,” as two pathetic junkers fight for the meaningless bones of your Past. You’re better than that. The end.” THAT would be unusual advice.)
Where did I leave off…ok- 1-4 is enough for one evening. Leave the reusable grocery bag in the unit and go home.
Go back the next morning or evening, keep up the momentum. On to #5.
5. Go to Starbucks or some other annoying-yet-satisfying hot drink establishment and get a huge, indulgent, caffeinated beverage to-go.
6. Go back to the spendy crypt with a legal pad and pen, and write down everything that’s in there. Everything. Open boxes, investigate their contents, write every little thing down. Remember the reusable bag you brought yesterday? You get to put small, miscellaneous discoveries in that bag and congrats, you may take them home to clutter up your apartment! Choose wisely. Use The Force to feel if they still truly belong to you- the You of today. Have a Virgo’s respect for paucity. You are using the scientific method and documenting everything on your list. You are an archaeologist and it is your job to record every single bone you find.
7. Go home and have a Halfway-Through Party. Whatever that means to you. A minute celebration in the style of a slightly extraordinary Tuesday will suffice (in other words, it’s not yet time to over-congratulate yourself.) As part of this modest celebration, compose a group email to everyone you know well enough to offer up your Amazing Collection of Old Used Things. Send the list to everyone and adamantly give people three days to respond (because it will actually take people eleven days to respond.) State a date that all of your BFFs can swing by your time machine with their SUVs, to magically turn Your Stuff into Their Stuff.
8. Call the junk removers. When you look at what’s left, and realize that Goodwill probably won’t pick it up, and neither will any other charity shop- because that service seems to be on its way out, I can think of only two options left for the remaining treasures: 1-800-GOT-JUNK, or a call to Starving Students movers to transport it all to Goodwill, another charity shop, or an actual charity that can use the goods. (This is not a paid recommendation- I'm just linking to them to be helpful.)
I suppose there may be a third option if you have some outlaw DNA, can live with yourself if you choose this last path, and have maxed out your tolerance for more of this agonizing process: you could leave the remaining unwanted junk there, and incur some additional (hefty) penaltie$ for the storage company to deal with the abandoned contents. You could turn your back on the meaningless remnants of your past with a cold-stone heart, letting Storage Wars come and duke it out for the broken changing table, old cork collection, and box of pregnancy undergarments. This will make a thrilling episode. (And if anyone asks, I never told you to do this.)
Aubrey Thorne is an interior designer, feng shui consultant, and astrologer in Los Angeles. She works with clients all over, both in-person and online. Feel free to contact Aubrey to ask a question or to schedule a consultation.