On a rainy day in March when we moved into a new house, I remember thinking how the garage would be my place. I was going to own it. It was going to be my room and organized my way.
By my way, I must have meant that only I’d know where things were and if you needed help finding something, like say a hammer, you’d get a pleasant “I have no idea where the hammer is…have you tried the kitchen drawer near the oven?”
The kitchen drawer?
By the time June rolled around things looked, well, a lot like they did on that rainy day in March. Sure, I had made some progress; I broke down all the moving boxes, loaded a cabinet only to realize I had to unload it and drag it across the garage because it was on the wrong wall, and sold some bachelor artifacts in a rummage sale, but the place just looked jumbled, unorganized. It had a certain “Occupy Wall Street” look, without all of the drum circles, chanting and patchouli hanging in the air. All of this was not wearing well with the wife.
When she offered to help (insisted), I was unsure (took offense). After all, the garage is the domain of man. If you don’t have a man cave, the garage is the refuge of last resort. This is where paint, oil, chemicals, the mower, tools, scraps of wood, nails, screws, and sand paper all live together. It’s OK to spill something in the garage and let nature take care of it. This is where old sweat streaked hats are welcomed. Panoramic pictures of SEC stadiums and Dogs Playing Poker belong on the walls of a garage. You should never use a coaster in the garage. Verboten.
For men, possibility lives in the garage. Attempts to fix a chair, stain a table or build a composter out of 2x4s, ply wood and chicken wire (that happened – look at the picture) come from the garage. I graciously stepped out of the way to let my wife cast her vision on the rest of the house, including my office, but not the garage. I put up a spirited defense and delayed the invasion of organization. Didn’t she know this is my space? Why did she feel the need to move in on my turf?
Answer: She spends as much time in the garage as I do, so it’s not really my turf. It’s the primary way we enter and exit the house. It’s where the extra fridge and deep freezer are. It’s where we keep surplus food and home supplies. It’s where she comes to find the kids when they aren’t in the house. It’s where the kids bikes stay and where the coolers for picnic lunches are kept. Going to the pool? Pool bag with towels and goggles can be found in the garage. If my wife needs, say, a hammer, she can find it in the tool box in the garage. The cold, hard reality is the garage was never mine, but ours.
With a loving spirit, my wife took me through an organizational exercise. I don’t recall the details, but I know that I could no longer defend why I kept wood screws in six different places (just because) or why I needed four different types of power steering fluid (this stuff is liquid gold I tell ya). Was it all a dream? My system was shocked. There was sweating followed by chills. At some point, clear plastic tubs were introduced, as well as a label maker to label aforementioned tubs. The trash can filled and at the end of the day, the place was transformed.
My initial resistance faded to blind compliance and then full-on thankfulness. The garage, on my watch, was a place of squalor. My wife helped me see that and did something about it. Now it’s clean, put up and organized.
I looked around at what the garage had become and saw that it was good.