The door of Unit B104 jams about a foot off the ground and I give a series of short tugs until it gives way and suddenly slides all the way up, revealing a small room stuffed with things, mine and my parents’ (which are mine too, now).
B104 is not my first storage unit, nor my only one. I have another, several suburbs away, which houses bigger furniture I couldn’t bear to part with when we prepared the house for sale – four dining chairs from Scotland, the writing desk made by my great uncle, the Axminster carpet my parents bought with wedding present money, my Scottish grandmother’s kist, Mum’s Magic Maid, my uncle’s wardrobe, my Australian grandmother’s rocking chair with the embroidered seat, the wooden baby high-chairs my Dad made.
What else could I do with them?
I hold my mother’s baking trays and cake tins and search for places to slip them between the mass of book cartons, reflex paper boxes, see-through plastic tubs, shipping trunks. The trays feel slightly greasy and I tell myself I’ll use them one day, when I have a place with an oven.
For years they lived in the pantry under the stairs – which we called the Cave – along with my mother’s pots and pans, orange plastic scales, Breville mix master and electric fry pan.
When Mum moved permanently into care, my brother suggested we start to clear out the Cave and dispose of perishable foods that would never now be used. Mum hadn’t baked for over a year since my father went into care and there were inedible, out-of-date packets of dried fruits, currants and glace cherries, dessicated coconut, slivered almonds and it hadn’t seemed so hard because she was still alive then.
After Mum died I cried for the ingredients we had put out months before. I wanted more than anything to see the big green plastic bins where she kept rice and flour and sugar, now in the op shop. I wanted little bags of crystalised sultanas and weevily flour and softening brazil nuts.
After she died, I wanted everything back.
Crying for baking goods.