Friday, March 6, 2009

Remembering the Garbage

Friday mornings, at around 6am, the garbage truck comes rumbling down the street. Not long after that the sound of crashing tins and breaking glass preclude the arrival of the city recycling service. In the past the noise was little more than a disturbance, lulling me out of sleep at about the time my alarm was going off anyway.

For the last 10 years my husband has been in charge of trash day. Prior to that, I lived in apartments with communal bins. No one had to DO anything-we dumped our bags in and the city took care of it. It's different now. For the first time EVER I am responsible for remembering to bring the garbage to the curb.

My newest residence is in a duplex. If I don't bring the trash and recycling out on Thursday night I awake on Friday morning with a panicked start - hearing the trucks, knowing that unless I jump out of bed and run outside in my pajamas and bare feet I'm doomed to a week of overflowing stinky garbage. It's not a pleasant way to start the day. Furthermore, failing at the chore results in a seven-day stint of unreasonable self-deprecation: cursing myself every time I try to stuff yet another bulging bag into the the bin. The waste becomes a symbol of my failed marriage, struggling career and the parenting snafus I FORGOT TO TAKE CARE OF!! Is it any wonder that my life is a mess? And so it goes until the week passes and another garbage day arrives.

On the other hand, REMEMBERING the garbage on Thursday nights has become an opportunity to pat myself on the back. In this way, the mundane chore has morphed into a celebration of my newly single status. Rolling the bins to the curb, in the dark cold of the night, makes me feel strangely satisfied: I've taken control of the trash and in doing so have reined in my failures and set them out neatly on the curb for someone else to dispose of.

Eventually, I assume, the Thursday night garbage ritual will become more automated - completed without thought or intention. I look forward to that time: when the rubbish is just rotten food, empty wine bottles and coffee grounds. But for now, this weekly accumulation of trash represents the mess I've created. Remembering to dispose of it brings me one step closer to cleaning everything up.