Wednesday, May 2, 2012
"Are you sure the 5 x 10 space will do it, then? The 10 x 10 isn't that much more, you know? It's easier to fill up than to pare down."
She smiles ruefully. "Yeah, I know, but that's what I'm trying to do. Pare down, I mean. The more space you have, the more likely you are to fill it. I'm just trying to get to the bare essentials."
"Whatever. It's totally your call." The manager doesn't have time to philosophize. "Okay, now it's a dollar for the first month, that's the promotion. Then each month after that is 80; You can cancel any time, but you'll pay for the whole month if you end it early." (How about that, she thinks.) He rips off the contract off the screechy, old-school printer. "Sign here and here," he indicates with X's. “Annnnd, initial right here where you decline the insurance."
She follows his instructions by rote, her mind on the boxes she's packed. How long she's thought about doing this, how many miles she's trotted on the trail, planning, deciding what to bring, how to sneak it away unnoticed.
She can't leave. But her things can. They can live in this tiny, windowless room. She'll put a chair in here, and sit with her books and papers. There might be room for the fold-up card table. She'll pretend she lives alone for two hours at a time.
Pack some boxes surreptitiously. No one will notice. In all the clutter what's one box more or less? Or three. Or five. She gathers things up periodically to take to Goodwill. Once in a while she could drive right past Goodwill and stop at the storage place instead. If she ever decided to leave for real, she could do it on a moment's notice. The few things she cared about would already be gone. As it is, she has an overnight bag stashed in the car, disguised as a gym bag, an emergency kit. A few days' worth of meds, some toiletries, cosmetics, a change of clothes and so forth. It would be quite easy, really. Given the amount of time she has spent envisioning it, it would be smooth as clockwork. Like a diamond heist in the movies. 11 Harrowhouse. The Italian Job. Score.
She sighs resolutely. Crumples the paper with the code to the gate and drops in the bin on her way down the rickety steps. Already put it in her phone. What would she say if she were discovered? The truth? Hardly. Who could stand to hear that? I don't love you, I don't want to be here, I need a place of my own that we can't afford, so here is an office I've created for myself in a storage locker. I'm leaving you in fantasy so I won't actually do it. Games she learned from the books on raising toddlers. How fitting.
They moved into an RV in the driveway once, for five days while they had the floors done. Packed up as for a trip. They smirked about their "staycation." Clothes for five days for two adults and three kids. Sleeping space for all and tiny places to tuck things away. An awning. A picnic table. There was a small kitchen area, but they ate a lot of take out. It was just five days.
Now she runs with the dog on the path to the bay. There is a trailer park--sorry, a mobile home community. Some of the parking spaces are filled with RVs and she thinks longingly of that time when she only had to deal with a limited space, a discrete amount of stuff. Paring away to essentials. She could do that again. By herself this time.
What would she need, really? The laptop, her few business clothes, a couple pairs of jeans. Even the books she would need, she could get at the library. Return them when she's done with them. Nothing outstays its usefulness. She's camped before, not real backpacking, but gear to make a tent cabin feel homey. Strings of chili pepper lights, a checked vinyl tablecloth. A few candles. Things she doesn't think to do at home now because there's already too much clutter, other people's possessions. When you come right down to it, everything she needs is right there in her mind anyway.
Irony is both sad and funny. A solitary person, petrified to be alone. Who surrounded herself with noisy people and lots of chaos. Only to learn, too late, that to be alone in silence was what she liked best of all.
Posted by Mina Klonopina at 11:51 PM