Today, I am thinking about my garage.
It is a quite a nice garage: It’s a double-car, concrete slab, heated, insulated facility. There is a nice shingle roof and the siding matches the house. There’s ample wall space for a tool board or for some of those cool neon garage signs, and some nice sliding windows, lots of electrical outlets, and bright fluorescent lights. Overall, it’s a pretty decent little facility, just right for housing two large trucks and associated automotive gear. Appreciated by human males everywhere.
Looking around, though – and thinking deeply about things the way I do – I consider the garage a theoretical construct, a space, a residential element, and a concept for future lifestyle. I note that in some planners’ and architects’ visions, the garage will become an occasional and optional living or “people” space, and with the long-sought, much-anticipated, incessantly talked about by urban planning zealots, and apparently soon-to-be-realized obsolescence of the motor vehicle, I really wonder if the whole concept of the garage is still appropriate to modern times.
So, let’s test the theory. The authoritative Free OnLine Dictionary defines “garage” as
1. A building or indoor space in which to park or keep a motor vehicle.
2. A commercial establishment where cars are repaired, serviced, or parked.
Is this definition still meaningful and accurate? I look to my own garage and add the following definition items:
3. A building housing 11 old kids’ bicycles in various sizes and states of disrepair, usually stacked against the back wall and jammed together so that if you try and move one, they will all fall over and skin your leg and bang your foot.
4. A building containing your father’s old tools from 1950 or before the invention of electricity, which were only used three times and are too good to throw away.
5. Activity space for the stacking of garbage bags and recycling boxes and contents when it is raining or snowing, or when the garbage bin at the end of the lane is full.
6. Wall space for the display of storage cabinets, antique hunting and fishing gear, and the mother-in-law’s old landscape paintings.
7. Floor space for the situation of spare lumber and panelling pieces, random exotic power tools obtained on Father’s Day but never used, and piles of sawdust not yet cleaned up by resident teenagers.
8. Floor space for the accommodation of large boxes full of baby clothes and learn-to-read books.
9. Additional space accommodating extra boxes of records, gadgets, olds stereo parts, broken furniture, and stale pizza boxes left over from when the last teenager moved out, moved back in again, and then moved out again to a smaller apartment, saying she would be back for all of here valuable stuff “very soon.”
10. Location of the beer fridge.
11. Location of the spousal collection of ancient and dysfunctional family curiosities, for which the spouse remembers the original owner and context but disremembers the actual purpose or function.
In fact, as I look at my garage, the only definition elements absent from the building are those that have anything to do with motor vehicles.
I guess my garage is a modern, visionary, and fully actualized facility after all.