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Non-fiction

First Phase of #OperationFindTheGarage Complete!

I was grimy and needed a shower, but I took a moment’s pause: there was something satisfying about completing something, of being covered in the evidence of progress.

Okay, so it’s not totally complete, but Phase One! Ah!

If you’ve followed along with this project, you may recall that I mentioned a while ago that I was, you guessed it, cleaning the garage. It is a place full of broken fans that were to be fixed, old vacuums that partially operated, various outdated electronics, cat hair, dust, and memories.

The first phase was, in fact, a series of sub-phases in which I attacked various corners of the space. I filled my recycle and trash bins — usually the day after they had been emptied — and once that point was reached, I’d stop until the next week. I was rather irritated last week because I was on a roll! I filled the bins and two trash bags but wasn’t satisfied. I could see the light at the end of the trash tunnel, yet had no way to dig through.

While this minor pause may not seem like a reason to be irritated, hold on and leave us go back a few weeks before that, when my garage door opener stopped working. Thanks to a wonderful man who figured out the issue, I was back in business after an extended time of not being able to make the door work. See?

I bounded to the garage this morning at about 6:30 AM and got started. The air was crisp before the Southern California heat was due to descend: the perfect time to sweat. Two and a half hours later, I had not only finished getting rid of trash but had relished in finding some books I thought had been lost as well as gleefully pawing through a stack of 45 RPM vinyl. I waxed nostalgic over the turntables (about five of them), two of which have pitch regulators. I also moved all the broken plug-in stuff out by my fence. At that point, I took off to locate Mr. Leonard to see if he might be willing to haul away those items for me.

Finding him at the store and before I could finish asking, he was nodding his head. ‘Can you gimme an hour? No, wait’, he paused to think.

‘Do you remember where I am?’ I asked to fill the extending gap, anxious to be finished for the day. The shower was calling as I stood, my shoulder blades baking in the sun; I fit right in with the other dust devils (the homeless folks who live nearby, the field workers who stop on their way to the next job …), my black capris re-colored dirt-gray, the Bourbon Street T-shirt mangled where I’d cut off the collar and sleeves.

‘No, but I’ll follow you in my car,’ Mr. Leonard answered.

I drove nearly the speed limit as he followed me from the store to my house. It took him three tries to park (parallel parking seems not to be a thing here). ‘You have a lovely home,’ he said as he followed me up the drive, his slight stroke from nearly a year ago having erased the memory that he’d been here before. After surveying the detritus, he decided. ‘You can drive the Suburban, right?’

I suppose the Coors Light he’d slugged back for energy made him forget I’d been in it one of the last times we’d talked.

Happily chatting and reminiscing the whole time, he loaded the back of the Behemoth and placed the last few items in his car. ‘Gotta save gas,’ he said wisely. ‘We can do it in one trip.’

Once back at the store, he unloaded the truck with equal efficiency, making piles of things for the dumpster, things he planned to fix and sell, and things he planned to keep for himself. ‘You call me anytime you need anything, honey,’ he said as he walked away with one last item.

He tried to argue when I gave him a little piece of money. ‘I gotta take care of you,’ I retorted, ‘because you take care of me, right?’

Silently, we parted and I drove home to my Phase One complete garage.

It is still a wreck, as Phase Two requires cleaning and organizing shelves for all the wonderful things I found and need to keep. The next phase may also include cleaning out a filing cabinet as I’d like to rearrange them a bit.

Maybe.

Phase Three will be the floor cleaning phase and will mark the end of the project. I’ll post a slew of photos then to show the (near) beginning, process, and end.

At which point, a new era will begin …

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