In the Great Transition, I bought my house in Missouri in November of 2004 but didn't move here until July of 2005. It was actually cheaper to own the house down here for that time than to put my stuff in storage while we lived in an apartment after we closed on the old house.
Some of you may remember that I moved here after buying a salon and spa in partnership with my sister. Some of you may also remember that the experience did not go as I hoped and I've been a little...shall we say...disappointed in some of what I've learned about my sister.
It started before I even got here. Deb called one day and asked if I'd mind if she stored a few boxes of shampoo in my garage. Given that I didn't live here yet, there was no reason not to use the garage. But the next time I came down, I couldn't even walk through my garage. Every square inch was filled with bags and boxes and storage racking she'd removed from the retail side of the salon; buckets of hooks and shelf hangers littered the floor; a display piece for makeup we no longer sold hovered in one corner.
Surprised but not terribly annoyed, I presumed she had a plan for getting all that mess out of my garage before I moved here. I was wrong.
For the first six months I lived here, I parked in the driveway because my garage was still crammed with junk. After someone broke into my car and stole my laptop in my own driveway, I had a slight meltdown and insisted Deb and her son Brendan (who put the stuff there in the first place) come help me move at least enough stuff that I could park in the garage.
For three years, I've been annoyed by that garage. Every time I come in or out, I invest a few moments in irritation—ranging from mild annoyance to outright outrage. When I can't find something that should be in the garage or I don't have a place to put something that would ordinarily go in the garage, I work myself into a fine froth about the lack of consideration and general crappiness of the situation. Several times, I've asked Brendan to bring his pickup and cart away some of the stuff we know we'll never need or use. He always says he'll be glad to do it, but nothing ever happens, and my mental list of grievances grows.
Until Friday. Evan called and asked if I needed help with anything. He didn't want money or anything else, he said. He just wanted to help me in some way. (Gasp!) We hung a couple grids and put up three shelves on one wall in the garage. It was the first time in his life Evan has offered to do something for me without asking for something in return--a real high water mark.
On Saturday, Mom and Deb and Liz (Brendan's girlfriend) went to Kansas to pick blackberries. I really wanted to go but had a previous commitment. When I stopped by Mom and Dad's later in the afternoon, Mom handed me a large bag of gorgeous berries. "Debbie picked these for you," she said.
In the weeks we've been riding, Debbie and I have fallen out of a long-standing cycle of irritation and recrimination and into a cycle of kindness. I bought a bike shirt for her, and she later presented me with a darling jacket. We work out logistics and take up the slack for one another. She picked berries for me.
When I got home with the berries, for the first time ever the mess in the garage didn't look like anyone's fault but my own. From 3:00 yesterday afternoon until 1:00 this morning and then again from 8:00 am until now, about noon, I cleaned the garage. And while it's true that filling my garage with junk wasn't a good idea, neither was stewing over it for nearly four years. Turning a completely blind eye to my own hand in the mess didn't help, either. I don't even want to tell you some of the stuff I found in there.
It took hours, but I consolidated the bags and boxes and buckets of hardware into plastic tubs and stacked them on one wall. All the junk's still there, but it takes up so much less space without the resentment. When everything was sorted, stacked, and organized, I swept the floor and parked Paula smack in the middle of the open space. Then I put my helmet on a peg and rolled Molly to a place of honor. She looks good there.
Beautiful, in fact.