Photo: Courtesy of The Container Store.
People will tell you that New York snobbiness is rooted in the many superior cultural opportunities, the museums, the well-dressed people, and the great restaurants. This is false. The reason some New Yorkers think they're better than other Americans comes from a place of deep masochism. We think that the fact that we live in tiny, dirty boxes surrounded by trash piles positively squirming with roaches and rats makes us somehow more interesting than the happy, clean people who live in beautiful, isolated cabins on mountain lakes where a cheerful goat visits twice a day to play with the family dog (yes, this is my fantasy, and no, I will not accept the fact that it might be a little unrealistic).
For someone who grew up in the land of endless space, empty highways, and the Mall of America, there's no glamour in the struggle. I don't find it cute or romantic that every single trash can on the streets of NYC is overflowing with fast-food boxes, ketchup dripping languidly onto the sidewalk. The idea of a city bursting with uncontainable life is nice, but unfortunately life brings with it equally uncontainable waste, and day-to-day confrontation with it is unavoidable here for anyone other than the supremely wealthy.
This was the cause of extreme unhappiness in my case, until I met my prince in shining, plastic armor: The Container Store. O, holy land of milk and honey and Tupperware! Bless your noise-reducing carpet, your shelves, and your proximity to West Elm! It was a clean place, a quiet place, a sane place with hundreds of cash registers and a specially made box for literally every size of item you could imagine, from the lone earring lying around your apartment to the oversized pouf you thought would really tie your living room together. The sight of so many boxes next to each other, beckoning to bring order to my life, was nothing short of orgasmic. Like Liz Lemon before me, I fell willingly into The Container Store's welcoming arms, only to find that it was a Venus fly trap whose sterile ways would eventually drive me to insanity.
Do I care that its very existence is a physical manifestation of the empty hole deep in the heart of humanity, widening every day in concert with the ozone hole? Do I mind that its faux-bougie sensibilities (the only thing more embarrassing than actual bougie sensibilities) are the lifeblood of a vicious cycle that teaches city dwellers that the Zen minimalism we so desire only comes with more, more, more? No, not at all, I readily got drunk on its promises of a Real Simple life. When the hangover hit, I found myself somehow surprised that storing my pasta in a plastic container didn't actually improve the quality of my cooking or mitigate the inches said pasta would add to my waistline.
But, it's not The Container Store's fault. It's mine. I'm not worthy. Somewhere, there are people who actually contain things — real things, not just existential misery — in those containers. I know them, I have heard of them, I have sensed the ghostly whisper of the wind flowing from their immaculate brownstones and into my crumbling apartment filled with cat hair. I don't even own a cat, but filth is just attracted to me, I guess. I could complain about it, but I won't, because I know I can just go to The Container Store and purchase a brand-new cat hair scrapbook (extra-sharp cat brush free with purchase) and at least feel better for a while, until it inevitably ends up in my SimpleHuman 12.6 Gal Butterfly Sensor trash can with the rest of my hopes and dreams.