As the flood waters of the nearby Des Moines River tributary finally receded, I made my way to my storage unit, which, judging by the muddy water marks on the outside walls, had been under three feet of water. I hesitated as I pushed the key toward the lock, bracing myself for the scene within, yet holding out hope that somehow the invading waters had simply lifted the items inside as bobbing pingpong balls, then set everything down just as it had been neatly stacked. I was not prepared for what I saw when the door swung open and waterlogged boxes actually tumbled out. It was as though the building had been shaken by something monstrous and angry, with a liberal coating of brown slime applied for good measure. The disarray was complete, everything soggy and earth-colored. I sighed and began sorting through the mess, boxes crumbling in my hands and possessions landing on the muddy floor. A tailored Santa suit, favorite coat bought in the Himalayas, photos of our life stories, a seasoned, but prized jacket were but a few of the many possessions placed with sad reverence into the nearby dumpster.
Despite the impact, I know that it was nothing compared to so many who have been recently displaced from their homes, and who have lost everything. On the relatively positive side, I can now send what was salvaged to our storage unit in Maine (far from any potential flood source) by mail instead of by moving van. We can make new memories, the ones that really count, those that are not things.