The Reverend Seth Ethan Carey
October 30th, 2005
First Congregational Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
A few years ago I tried to move into a self-storage unit. My reasoning was that it wasn’t so different from an apartment complex, really, except for the fact that rooms were much smaller and had no plumbing, heat, or electricity. And my brother had an apartment right across the street from one of these huge U-Haul complexes, six stories of steel corridors and box-shaped rooms—or rather, affordable housing, depending on how you look at it. I figured I could rent one of these 10x10 storage facilities for about $50 a month and take showers at my brother’s place across the street.
I knew it was crazy. It might just be crazy enough to work, I told myself.
Needless to say, my brother wasn’t very fond of this idea. In a desperate attempt to safeguard his kitchen and bathroom from my freeloading scheme, he quickly informed me that those storage units can only be unlocked from the outside, and that moving into one of these things would be equivalent to burying myself alive.
Acknowledging this wisdom, I decided to bite the bullet and spend a little more money and find a more acceptable place to live. Turning my eyes from the vast storage facility, I decided to find an old U-Haul truck, park it on a pleasant plot of land, and live out my days in claustrophobic and affordable simplicity. I was determined to think outside the box on this, even if it meant living inside one.
At the time, this seemed like a really romantic concept.
But my hopes were dashed a second time when someone informed me that buying an old U-Haul wasn’t good enough, as I’d still have to pay for the land that I parked on. And that was when I realized that there isn’t ten feet of space in this country that hasn’t already been discovered, seized, fenced off, sub-divided, zoned, sold, bought, paid for, and restricted.
I felt as though someone had just driven a nail into the planet and hung a “No Trespassing” sign on the gates of the world.
But if I could just get that broken old U-Haul seaworthy, then I could have probably sailed it to some remote location in the frozen wastes of say, Siberia, what one writer referred to as “a desolate landscape of vodka and ice.” Or perhaps I could have headed for the Iraqi/Jordanian border, a place that Left Turn Magazine called “a land of desolation,” where “coils of razor wire stretch into the desert whilst sun-grayed plastic bags caught in their sharpness flap in the hot, dry winds.”