There are moments in life when you realize you may have pushed yourself a little too far.
Mine came just before we moved out of our apartment in San Francisco to jet off to Buenos Aires for a month, as I was shoving the last of our belongings into the smallest (and cheapest, mind you) available storage space that I could find. See, I was sure that if I stacked everything methodically and carefully, that I could use the great amount of unaccounted for space above eye level to fit everything that we had from our little studio apartment by the sea, into this even tinier compact space. Yup. As sure as ten dimes buy a dollar.
Well, pretty sure.
Big items, not including boxes: a couch, a bed, mattresses, coffee table (because it didn’t disassemble like most of our IKEA pets), and a wine fridge.
Manageable right? (And all the Engineers said, “Amen.”)
It was like Tetris. Without the annoying background music or 10 of those damn “S” blocks coming in a row. (I mean do they EVER send those long skinny suckers 10 in a row?! The answer is, no.)
And I wasn’t even the slightest bit daunted by it. I wasn’t even slightly worried when my wife first saw the space half full after I had already made 2 loads by myself in a Zipcar, and hadn’t even moved the big items yet.
“Uh, hunny? Is this the biggest storage space you could get?”
The look on my face must have been one of determination, diligence and the same calm strength that made her decide to marry me and not at all the “How dare you challenge my manliness?” look, because her look back to me was definitely not, “Ok. I can see you’ll be learning the hard way. Again.” No, it absolutely was not that look. *cough* Nope.
But did I take a hint? No, I did not. I did what every man given a challenge by the woman they love would do.
I pushed harder.
I stacked higher.
I broke a few things.
I packed tighter.
I threw a few things away in some random dumpsters around the city. (Don’t get all uppity with me, I spread it out over several dumpsters.)
I may or may not have cursed the mother of the slippery concrete floors of the storage building as I leaned against the door, straining for a foothold, and trying to push the last corner of my mattress in the door. The thin tin walls of the space creaking and quivering like my quads, sweat beading down into my eyes, I furrowed my brow and pushed harder, veins bulging, “C’maawwwn. Get. In. There!”
Then it happened.
My shoe hit a slick spot in the concrete and slipped out from under me, and I crashed to the hard cold floor as the mattress corner, already the bane of my existence, popped out and smacked me in the face.
“Ow.” I groaned. But I was too tired to care. I just lay there. Defeated.
Mattress 1, Roem 0.
“You should always go for the bigger one when it’s only a dollar” said a voice from above.
I thought, “If that’s the voice I’m hearing in the afterlife, I must be in hell.”
But I wasn’t dead. That would have been a relief. Instead it was an older lady, skinny frame, clad head to toe in a J-Lo jumpsuit and folding her laundry near her storage room down the hallway.
“When you are only paying a dollar for the first month, you should always go for a bigger unit. You know, you are only paying a dollar so it’s the same if it’s that tiny one you got or the bigger one. Because you’re only paying…”
“I know. I heard you” I replied coldly, cutting her off.
I then picked myself up and went right back to work. I didn’t have time for manners or niceties at this point. And I really didn’t have time to make friends with the Public Storage Clans living out of their tin spaces and giving out unsolicited advice like a fortune cookie at a Mexican restaurant. Nor did have time for excuses. I was tired, damn it. And I wanted to be DONE.
So I kicked in the bottom bend of the mattress and pushed it in the corner to help it fold better, lifted the other side and inch, and gave it the ole heave ho! And it worked. The mattress slipped in like a charm. I stood there for a second in absolute shock and pride.
“You see?!” I shouted down the hall.
But it was empty. The woman was gone.
No matter. I shut the door, locked it, and looked back at my finished work.
“That’s how you move to Argentina, Roem Baur.” I said to myself in moment of self accomplishment.
Then it occurred to me.
I have no idea how I’m going to get that stuff out.