Every RV Park in the city was booked. Except one. In North Highlands. That’s where we parked Earl.
"Whatever you do, don’t go to North Highlands." Again, the advice my nephew gave when we needed to find a small storage unit to rent.
Crime rate is high in this area. Storage units are a big target for theft.
We spent a day driving around other parts of the city looking at different little garages to rent. Very tedious and boring. All too expensive. Out of our tight budget.
We see an ad for a place in…of course, North Highlands. We go and check it out. It’s okay, not great, but we’re hot and tired and sick of looking so we almost sign when I suddenly say,” Let’s drive around the block to check out the neighborhood.”
Lauré agrees. Neither one of us had really felt ‘right’ about the place. This would give us a chance to talk and look around the area first. After all, “Don’t go to North Highlands” was still in the back of my mind.
We soon realize that the block is huge. Maybe a couple of miles in diameter. Turning off of the main road, the rest of the block is a mix of old farm lands and dirt lots. An array of shed-like structures, trailers, horses and junk are scattered in each. And more storage unit facilities. No sign of any people. Suddenly, the city seemed far away.
I had the hypothesis that if someone were living on the storage unit property itself, our stuff might be safer. Kind of like having a resident manager over the place. So when we drove by a storage lot with an old house in front, I asked L to stop.
L went up to the front door and knocked. We waited. No answer. L walked around to the side door and knocked. We waited. No one answered.
L, being the one with the most common sense, sees a phone number on the sign and decides to call. In the meantime, I do what I do best. I wander over to admire a big tree on a grassy lawn.
As I look down, I see that the grass is covered in a blanket of clover. Almost as if she is standing right next to me, I can hear my mother’s voice singing a song she used to sing to us. ‘I’m looking over a four leaf clover that I overlooked before…’ Her presence is unmistakable. With tears in my eyes, I softly start singing along. I know that something powerful is occurring.
L: Hurry and get in the car. This isn’t the main office. They have a couple of other options that sound good. They’re waiting for us.
Too overwhelmed with what has just happened to me, I can’t speak. I just get in the car.
We drive around the corner and see a well-kept building with lots of plants and palm trees all around. A young man has us jump on a golf cart and starts driving around the storage yard.
We’ve never seen anything like this before. Rows upon rows of neatly lined truck containers turned into storage units. We’re talking thousands. Acres and acres. All nicely painted grey. The ground is asphalt, and meticulously clean. Super organized by size of container. We are soon shown a newer container that fits our needs. The price is even one third less than we had budgeted.
I’m still kind of dazed thinking about the clover incident.
Me: We’ll take it.
L looks at me in utter shock and disbelief.
In all of the years we’ve been together, we’ve operated as a team when it comes to big decisions. It’s been our practice to always talk between ourselves before we agree to purchase anything. I am acting completely out of context by not giving the typical consulting time.
But now just doesn’t seem to be a good time to explain, even though she won’t stop staring at me with that look of “What the heck?”
I know that she’ll understand. She’d get that I had some kind of message from my mom. However, retelling the story just now, in front of the storage-unit-sales-guy, didn’t seem like the best of idea. “Hon, my deceased mother just sang me a song from the 1920’s that gave me the thumbs-up to rent from here”. Ya, right. Moves us into the creepy customer category pretty fast.
What I did say was: Please believe me and I’ll explain later.
We rent it. When we are by ourselves, I explain my actions. Thank goodness she knows me well enough that I may be crazy, but never creepy.
The Day We Move Stuff into the Storage Container:
Just the two of us are unloading the rental truck. L can see everything like a Tetris Game. She has everything stacked in perfect organization. She’s the brain, I’m the pathetic brawn.
One last item. The tool chest. A heavy tool chest.
When we decided to minimalize, we simultaneously had to anticipate what we might need on the road. Earl is old. Travel will cause things to break. Behind Earl’s back, I sometimes refer to him as the Millennium Falcon. You’ve got to have tools and certain items at your disposal to keep him rattling on at his hyper speed of 55 mph.
Years of accumulating awesome tools for dinking on motor vehicles, we made decisions to keep some things with Earl, and some in storage. At least for the first year while we see what we really need. What we don’t use or require, we’ll come back and sell.
This tool chest is heavy. We cannot lift it over the step into the storage container, let alone control it coming down the truck ramp. (This is where I am envisioning me like a cartoon character flattened by a steam roller.)
Just when we decide to take apart the tool chest and remove every tool, a golf cart pulls up. Jesse, one of the guys who works in operations stops to say hello. Seeing our dilemma, he looks around, jumps out of his golf cart and helps me get this beast out of the truck and into the container. Helping move items for customers is against the rules of the property.
Soon, Jesse is sharing a bit of his life story and how there are many parallels with his family and the musician, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Lots of members are musically inclined and have the name Ray as middle names. His passion is music as well. Conversation goes to names. Jesse and his wife are expecting twins next month.
Jokingly, we ask if they are being named Ray. He smiles. They’ve decided to name the boy, Jacob. The girl, Julia Catherine.
Me: That’s my name.
Jesse: No way.
Me: Yes, Julia Catherine.
Jesse: That’s crazy.
L and I look at each other. Every day, stuff like this happens to us. Stuff that seems crazy and coincidental. We don’t try to make heads or tails of it. We just know that when you’re open to whoever and whatever God brings you, lots of cool experiences happen. Wonderful human connections and interactions. They can be small. They can appear trivial, but we see them as gifts.
Jesse was our gift that day. He saved my back. He made us smile. And we have a new friend on this glorious Earth. All of this in North Highlands.
Thank you, Lord!
BTW We never had any negative incident while staying or storing in the North Highlands area!