Map of My Belongings

This weekend my friend Dale helped me rearrange my storage unit, the 192-cubic-foot cave where I store what I cannot yet release. He is the best kind of help since he once worked as a professional mover, and has the kind of brain that organizes items in an organic, pleasing fashion. Plus, he is really strong.

Every time I visit the storage cave, I am struck by how many items I have forgotten about, that just blink out of existence once I am away from them. Finding they exist isn’t exactly a pleasure these days. I keep discovering I own more than I thought I did, and still have more reduction tasks in front of me. Even so, I am nearing the point where I could, in theory, put everything I own inside (or outside and strapped to) my vehicle.

Dale suggested I snap some pictures as we worked, which may serve as useful guides in the future when I send someone in to retrieve something for me. But in spite of that photographic record, after we had locked up and left the building I found myself doodling a diagram of the cave. Referring to the photos and recollection, I was drawing a treasure map of my belongings, starting with the back wall of the storage unit.

Once I began, I was obsessed. Roughly estimating the size of boxes of crates, keeping it simple, and using the same labels as the boxes themselves are sporting, I began to stack up the little line drawings on top of one another, and worked from right to left across the page, with the imaginary floor of the storage unit in front of me, below the drawn boxes. When I finished, the little drawing felt like a new friend.

But how to continue? Things were about to become more complicated, since the unit is more than one long wall. There may be multiple ways to do this and probably quite a few that make more sense than the way I did it, but I just kept picturing myself inside the unit, seeing the walls, so I turned to the next wall, and began again on a new piece of paper. (The items stacked in the far corner appear on both maps, since they are up against both walls.) Finishing that wall diagram, I turned again in my mind. Items stored up above or stacked and leaning in the corner found their own way in to the drawing. I couldn’t stop, and once a wall was done I’d lay it down next to the other simple line drawings, black ink on white glossy paper, and somehow this made my life make sense for a minute.

I have imagined this in other mediums (a felt board; a magnet board; a thick envelope made to look like my vehicle with each drawn box or item cut out and stored inside) and while I can’t say I understand this project, I know it is a step in the process that cannot be skipped. I am supposed to make a board game of my possessions, a carry-pack, a deck of overly-simplified images. Trust me, I realize how odd this sounds. But I am trying hard to listen to the odd directions and do what is suggested. So today I am thinking about tagboard, felt scraps and yarn.

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