I was recently notified by the folks at Manhattan Mini Storage that my fees would shortly be escalating to just under $200 a month ... a sum I can no longer blithely justify spending every month. As such, I've begun the grueling task of what Black Flag once called "the process of weeding out." Being by nature both a pack-rat and debilitatingly sentimental, these sorts of chores can be especially complicated for me. But still, it must be done. My goal is to have my pricey space on Vandam Street emptied by the end of April.
I've been forced to exhume ephemera from my geekier past in the process. Today, I brought back home a massive box of comic books. Many were lovingly sheathed in plastic bags with stiff boards behind them to keep them crisp and aligned. Others were less carefully packed and free of any protection, but all were in at least good condition. There are at least six other boxes just like this one still waiting in my storage space (along with four or five crates of vinyl LPs, a couple of cartons of photographs, several framed posters, and countless poster tubes). Some of the boxes are filled with more comics, others are stuffed with rock mags that I either wrote for or slavishly read from the 80s and 90s. Still others are packed with vintage "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" material (some of it autographed by TSR luminaries like Gary Gygax, Brian Blume, Erol Otus and more). I started filling this storage space back in the late 1990s. In all honestly, I've forgotten what's in at least half of these boxes.
The stuff I cannot bear to part with will stay and ideally move to a storage space we keep down in the basement of our apartment building. That space is also packed to the rafters with baby clothes and gear that our kids have long since grown out of. So, while I'm in one room fretting over whether or not to hold onto stacks of comic books, my wife is in the other, fighting back sentimental tears as she puts together bundles of our children's old clothes to give to Goodwill. The whole scene is arduous and emotional.
The big takeaway for me in all this is as follows: NEVER OPEN UP A STORAGE SPACE! Seriously, all it becomes is an expensive purgatory between your home and the trash. Honestly, if something doesn't merit taking up space in your home, you should just part with it. Putting in an adjunct space (that you have to pay for) is complete waste, and one that will swim around and bite you on the wallet like an angry shark at one point.
So, I'm trying to be disciplined and ruthlessly efficient, but it's not easy. It's especially not easy when Manhattan Mini Storage fails to provide a dumpster wherein to dispose of stuff you just can't find a need for anymore. Well, that's not entirely true. They'll help you get rid of stuff, .... for a price. Not wanting to give them any more money, I carted up a bunch of stuff that was inexplicably taking up room in my Vandam spot and spent forty-five minutes wandering around the surrounding neighborhood, fruitlessly looking for a dumpster. I ended up divvying up the detritus between five or six garbage cans. It was an exasperating chore.
I'm now sitting in the living room with piles of my old comics and vainly trying to teach my little son Oliver to handle them with restraint and respect. It's a lovely trip down memory lane, examining titles prized at comic shops like Super Snipe on East 84th and Second Avenue (gone), The Comic Art Gallery on East 58th Street (gone), SohoZat on West Broadway (gone), Action Comics on East 81st Street (gone), etc. etc. But my friend and former boss Michael made a really cogent point on my Facebook page. I can get rid of them now, or I can get rid of them ten years from now, but I'm going to have to ditch them at some point. He said he had yet to make the mistake of giving away or dumping something that he found himself wanting later. When in doubt, get it out.
But until I summon the fortitude to part with my past, I'm enjoying this last (maybe?) perusal through the pulpy pages.