Friday, February 4, 2011

Epiphany in the Container Store

Since Jeff died over a month ago, I have (obsessively, maniacally, frantically) organized and purged: the basement, all the Christmas paraphernalia, all the children’s books, my vast collection of filched stationary from hotels, several drawers filled with tools, random screws and broken appliances, and boxes of old letters and birthday cards. It was all about working my way up to the mother of organizing tasks: the pictures.* That documentary evidence of our past happiness, folly, and confusion. Those images more resonant for their lacunae.

In order to complete this insane project of organizing all our photographs, I decided I needed boxes of a very specific shape. My own box supply was deficient, and then I heard about the Container Store.
I had never been to the Container Store before, and it was, for me, akin to what Disneyland must be like for cartoon-infused children. I didn’t know where to look. I started hyperventilating. I had never seen so many boxes, in so many sizes, for so many specific purposes, made of so many materials. Perhaps if I lived in the Container Store my brain would undergo sympathetic convergent compartmentalization. Perhaps.
They carry boxes specifically designed for every possible article of clothing: Panty boxes, Sock boxes, Boxer and Brief boxes, Bra boxes, and Lingerie boxes. Of if you prefer, you can get a Diamond Drawer organizer for all your socks. And for $7.99 you can buy a hanging Flip-Flop Holder, to store your collection of cheap rubber sandals. The myriad possibilities for storing and stretching and preserving your shoes have robbed me of words.

There is an entire wall of gadgets and gizmos for organizing and concealing cables & cords. How could one choose? I could not.
You can buy a package of large rubber bands designed to hold the plastic garbage bag in place in your wastebasket. Someone somewhere actually decided that the consumers of America needed task specific rubber bands, and so they created them (& had them made in China) and packaged them and now you can buy them for $7.99.
I cannot say for sure, but I have the distinct impressive that a large percentage of the goods at the Container Store can be bought for $7.99.
The section on desk & office supplies sent me into rhapsodies. You can have a stapler shaped like a dog. Or you can have a stapler that uses no stables but very cleverly punctures the paper and then uses the punched-out chad to bind the pages. It is touted as the environmentally friendly stapler, presumably because papers stapled together in this staple-less fashion can be easily recycled. There is a row of magnetic bookmarks, and another row of designer page flags. I was delighted to learn that those handy sticky things are called page flags. Never having conceived before that designer page flags even existed, I am now coveting the whole set of designer page flags, the ones with geometric patterns and the ones with naturalistic patters (I like the grass) and the abstract expressionistic page flags.
Another aisle is devoted to various boxes for storing your rolls of wrapping paper, tissue paper and ribbons. Or perhaps you would prefer a hanging canvas apron (I don’t know what else to call it) with pockets for wrapping paper, ribbons, scissors, tape and whatever else your wrapping requires.

This morning I returned to the Container Store to return all the boxes I don’t really need, but could not resist on first acquaintance. But I am keeping my Mini-Cable Turtle.

Why is this task so daunting, and why will it take forever? The above is one small example: 2 snapshots of beloved son and his favorite cousin in Marshfield, that summer when it rained all August. A month of rain is a long time when you are a small boy. In a moment of cabin fever the cousins had the brilliant idea of going to the old boat house and setting up the even older pool table. Like all proper pool tables, it was made of slate and hence weighed many hundreds of pounds. Using methods known only to those two small boys and now deeply classified, they managed to move the pool table from a corner and were on their way to installing it, when it fell and landed on beloved son’s toe, and crushed it. (Yet this is only the official version of events. There is also the ineffable. There is the provenance of every piece of furniture and every hideous fabric; there are remembered smells.)
Later, his grandmother would describe the bloody mess as resembling blueberry jam.
Tristram spent the next week or more in a cast. The doctor told him he might lose the toe if he did not keep still and stay off it. The cousins then played a lot more Monopoly, at which they were, and still are, very adept and cutthroat. You play with them at your peril. His toe is fine now. It is not a thing of beauty, but it does everything a toe needs to do.

1 comment:

Rebecca Rice said...

Psychologists talk about the "work of grief," but surely they could not have envisioned trips to the container store and back again!

Thanks for this eloquent and touching account of your days.