In the days and weeks leading up to our untethered journey, the home that we shared with my mother was a flurry of activity. Actually, it was more like a high speed train — or trains. New homeowners had a move-in date. Time was running out, and we all were going back and forth in different directions. Mom was in the midst of a new relationship, sinfully and carefully and gleefully beginning cohabiting with her new beau. We were planning to travel and had just acquired our camper. The processes of moving, downsizing, purging and shifting were all full time jobs, which were tacked onto our respective other full time jobs of Scot as business owner, me as full time mom and my mom’s forging a new relationship. All of our things had been merged and mingled for five years by that point. Who knew whose candles belonged to whom? Who received which hammer? Maybe you should take the red towels and we’ll take the brown ones. It was madness. We were busy; there was nary a dull moment.
Going from home to home is comprehensible, isn’t it? Generally there are lots of places to put one’s possessions no matter the size or shape: One can visuals the space. Although we were separating this from that, mom was able to downsize her home needs to fit and merge within her new domicile and could accommodate this transition with new shelves and cubbies and so on. But our venture into tiny and full time travel created two problems: What were we going to do with the stuff that we wanted to keep but surely could not take with us and definitely did not want to burden with our mothers, and how would we retrieve it?
Throughout Life Untethered we talk about living small, as well as other things that help us do what we do, but with the hasty nature of our departure, we really didn’t get down to the details about one very important aspect of our ability to travel and stay compact, and that is storage. For anyone interested in exploring options for such endeavors, we thought it would be helpful to know some details.
Initially, we assumed that we would be renting a standard storage unit measuring ten feet by five feet and worked it into an early draft of our monthly budget. We were hoping for something climate-controlled, especially because we have so much art, so ranges varied between seventy-five and one hundred fifty dollars.
As piles were created and dwindled and new ones made from sifting and resorting, we were able to begin to see what we might be keeping in the long run. We marked with tape a ten-by-five area in an unused bedroom and fitted it with four adjustable, collapsible metal industrial racks, with which we began to fill with contents of our future selves.
That idea and space shifted many times, too. Again, a huge consideration in all of this was our art, most of which I had painted and much of which was very large. In fact, three of the biggest pieces were clearly dictating our storage needs, which was beginning to encroach on our budget. One piece specifically — we call her “Lola” — happens to measure ten feet tall by five feet wide, which would have had to have been carefully inserted into the intended storage unit with the same parameters. We were going to need more space, not less.
This was not the direction in which we wanted to go. But we were in luck. One of Scot’s clients, Boer’s Transfer and Storage, is a company specializing in storage and moving, especially of the long distance kind. Scot knew that they house stored goods in wooden crates and, more importantly, could ship our stuff anywhere in the world should we find a new place to call home. After a couple of conversations with our guy, Larry, we learned a lot about what they do, which helped clear the way for us to make firm decisions about what to keep and how to proceed.
Firstly, they do ship pretty much everywhere in the world. Shipping begins at around two thousand dollars and goes up from there. This seems rarely an option at any other general storage facilities and was important to us for future considerations. I certainly knew nothing about it until I met Larry.
Secondly, all goods are stored in wooden, clamped crates, of which there are a couple of sizes and you can use as many as you need. Larry recommended that we go with a crate that measures five by seven by seven. All crates are stored, stacked and secured in their climate-controlled warehouse. This was a huge factor for us, too: Climate-controlled storage units are difficult to come by and they can be expensive. Crates are not used for shipping. Goods are transferred from crate to shipping container before they leave the building.
Thirdly, they also could store my large art, or anyone else’s large whatevers, like sofas, of which there were surprisingly many. I couldn’t believe how much time we spent thinking about our giant paintings, but they are special pieces and part of the family. It was important that they came with us wherever we went and received some TLC.
Next, working with Boer’s fit well within our budget. In fact, there was room to spare. Storing our goods in the recommended crate and separately housing three large paintings would cost us sixty dollars a month — a price unmatched by regular storage facilities. It does the travel and tiny budget good.
Finally, they can go to you or you can pack up your own truck and drive and store your personal contents yourself. Everything that goes into a crate is marked with a numbered sticker and documented. They are super organized and want to ensure that all items are noted.
With so much food for thought, we returned to our organizing tasks with confidence and renewed spirit. We remarked our lines to reflect five feet wide by seven feet long, and we adjusted a rack or two to about six feet in consideration of boxes that might take up the last foot of the top shelf. These would be the parameters of our future and we began packing and stacking.
With the exception of a few things that stayed with Scot’s mom and many favorite toys and stuffed animals that went with my mom for visits, only what we deemed most important or irreplaceable went on the shelves. We sorted things that we didn’t want to buy on the other side, such as a few small workhorse kitchen appliances. I was not going to keep my vinyl collection or turn table, but Scot reminded me of how much I love them both — and music — so we kept those, too. We packed childhood memorabilia of all three of us, and gifts from the heart. We carefully placed some books on art and food into boxes, and considered things that Luna would be happy to see upon opening. I kept some art supplies. And more.
Then, to save money, and because our lot was so small, we rented a truck and loaded and unloaded the goods ourselves. First we placed the racks into the crate. Then, as we brought boxes and art down the ramp, the crew sticker-bombed them and wrote descriptions accordingly. When one rack was full, we added another and arranged it like it was storage Tetris. We filled in the gaps with my super heavy industrial easel and a few other odd items. The guys tended to the art, which was propped along a large row of stacked crates. And that was that.
Before closing the door of the crate, we stuck a note on one of the racks that I penned on the way to Boer’s. It says that we hope that we did well in our sorting, that we don’t know if we have too much or too little. It mentions wondering how we will feel when we open the crate, where we will be and what we will know. But I didn’t copy the note or take a picture of it. We wanted it all to be kind of a surprise.
It’s funny, as I write this I can hardly remember all that we put into storage, but I know that it did include art and pictures, memorabilia, some high quality kitchen items, the turntable and vinyl records, some precious gifts and more. It looks like we kept all of the Christmas decorations, too. It even has the belly casts of my once-pregnant belly. We recently discussed what we missed and how we would feel if none of it existed anymore. We decided we were at peace with all of it, even if it all went up on flames (this part Luna wouldn’t enjoy), because our focus has become about the experiences and not all of the things. The rest of the contents of our lives are in a five-by-seven-by-seven box on the third level of a warehouse, hanging out with the art, the sofas and the rest of the stuff. And we couldn’t be more pleased, relieved and cool with it. Much thanks to the incredibly helpful and professional crew at Boer’s Transfer. We couldn’t do what we do without them.
So, if you had the need or desire to make space for the most important things of your life, how much would you require? What would it contain? What would it do for you? Would it free you? Make you appreciate what you have and what you really need? Would you need more or would you need less? Just curious. To each his or her own. Even though you can’t take it with you when you go, what would you take and how? It is the stuff of life.