I've had a basement for almost 10 years now. For the first chunk of time I was living on my own in apartments with no storage, this was fine. My mom had storage in her house. I didn't have a ton of stuff; or rather, I hadn't replaced my childhood tchotkes, given to me by various aunties, mostly, with grown up tchotkes, gathered from various curbs and garage sales and flea markets in three cities.
And then I had a basement, and another basement, and another and another and another. And two rented houses in which I framed and drywalled some rooms, and another apartment in which I fixed up a fair bit of stuff because I wanted to, and then two more houses in which I had part-ownership with ginormous basements big enough to store all the stuff I was gradually collecting.
A big tote just for wrapping paper and boxes I might use someday? Why not. A T-square and two levels? But of course. More expensive to replace than to store, right?
It all happened very quickly. Once it started, that is. I often take a long time to make a decision about something. I like to consider the best- and worst-case scenarios that might result, then change a factor or two and re-do the thought experiment. Rinse and repeat. For months, sometimes, about big decisions. So Shelley and I talked about selling the houses and I demurred; and then I waffled; and waffled; and waffled; and then I said yes. And as soon as I said yes, we were off to the races. We made the decision, tried to sell it to friends, found an agent, and had the sold papers signed within 3 weeks.
The next challenge, of course, was to find a new place to live. I was specific in my desires: west of Bank, east of Preston, south of Laurier, north of the Queensway. Cheap, because I may well not have a job by the end of July. We looked at several hideous shitboxes, and then I got desperate and emailed and emailed a guy who was not emailing me back. We got that place. I have no idea how big it actually is, because everytime I think about it, the walls creep about a quarter inch closer together. And I think about it a lot.
It's not just tools in my basement, of course. The tools, really, I'm fine to disperse them amongst the basements of friends and neighbours. But I have a moldy suitcase full of most of the writing I did as a kid and teenager. I have another tote filled with one million framed photos, and the diaries I wrote in my 20s when I didn't have a computer. I have a larger tote filled with teacups from aunties, handmade gifts, the "nice" jewellery I've collected over the years. All those silver dollars I was given for Christmasses. A wedgewood commemorative plate from the year I was born. What makes that box heavy is the treacle of sentiment and guilt that thickly coats each piece.