Usually, when I pass the self-storage places in the strip malls as I drive to work, I ignore them. They are part of the mundane aspects of daily life that blend in with the roadside trivia like payday loan shops

Payless shoes, the Mall, and Office Depot, McDonalds,

the gas station.

None of these things stand out until I need them or they disrupt me. Selective perception, and all.

Lately, I’ve observed the large amount of self-storage places. I started tracking them during a trip to New York City, where they seemed out of place because the city has no strip malls. Since space is a premium in the city, self-storage places make more sense there than in suburbia.

With Occupy Wall Street dominating the discursive and political field, the need for somewhere to store our amassed belongings seems hypocritical. Self-storage bespeaks our individual and cultural greed that has installed Wall Street’s very existence and power. The fact that our material belongings exceed our household space surely contributes to our state of homelessness. Self-storage is proof of capitalism stored in neat tin cabinets, or coffins, pick your metaphor. Self-storage is testament to our downfall. Pixar’s Wall-E showed us that in all its ugly cuteness.

The idea of self-storage is intriguing on a personal level. What kind of selves have I stored over time? The recent upheavals in my household meant packing and unpacking boxes, relocating belongings, and sifting through the mementos and memories that represent the different parts of my life. I’m journeying through the whole “who am I” thing that divorce invites. Moreover, that “who am I” thing is complexly invested in “what I own” and “what I buy.” I’ve commented on this before in criticizing Sarah Ben Bretnach’s Simple Abundance philosophy. America’s hyper-individualism and hyper-capitalism go hand in hand.

I am what I buy.

No news there, true.

Only I just realized I need a place to store all that crap I bought and all the different me’s that accompany it.

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