On the other side of town, I have a rented storage unit, teeming with relics of my misspent youth. College textbooks, thirty-inch-waist corduroy pants, and other items I'll never again have any use for. I have the nerdy brown briefcase I carried all through eighth grade, still bulging with exactly the same notebooks, term papers, and mimeographed handouts as on the last day of school in June, 1963.
It wasn't always on the other side of town, this repository of personal history. When I first moved back to Santa Rosa, I lived two blocks away from it. Now that I'm living on a half-acre of heaven, it's eight miles of stressful city driving to get there, and eight more miles back. This explains, in part, why it wasn't until today that I returned my Christmas decorations and wrapping paper to the storage unit.
With the Boss out of town and apparently working in a canyon somewhere that cellular service hasn't found yet, I had a little extra time on my errand run this morning, so I took the opportunity to make a rare visit to the Locker. I filled the car's trunk with a couple of boxes of plastic items I don't use here, just to make it an efficient trip.
For once, I didn't bring back as much as I took, just two books that caught my eye as I was digging through boxes looking for, well, books that might catch my eye. I really have enough room here at the Fortress to store all this stuff, but not without cluttering either the loft or the garage or both. Besides, the rent there is cheap. And besides that, what I should really do is go through it and throw ninety percent of it in the trash.
Yeah, like that's going to happen any time soon.
Another reason I like keeping the unit in that remote a location is that I always enjoy talking to the older woman who runs the office there. I'm sure she tells the minute details of her daily life to everyone who comes in, or tries to. I'm not sure everyone else listens to her and commiserates with her. If they don't, they're missing something, because she's a joy to talk to, even when she has nothing in particular to say.
It's a little like journal reading. I get a slice of someone's life. I get to know the side of a person that she feels like sharing that day. I get a bit of a connection with another person, and that enriches my own experience.
Today her story was not petty at all. She had a heart attack earlier this month and was in the hospital for a week. She doesn't remember anything from the time of the attack until she woke up five days later. She was talking with a customer at the time, a man who happened to be a firefighter. He called 911 immediately, an act which might have saved her life.
She's just now getting back to the life she chooses to lead, active and engaged. She tires easily, but she has a medical implant which monitors her heart and calls for help before she even knows she needs it. She'd never been sick before, and she allows as how it's lucky she waited so late in life to need medical help, what with all the advances in recent years.
It's a good thing I had some extra time this morning, because I spent more if it with her than I'd intended. I left her with my best wishes. She was smiling, and welcoming her next customer.