looking forward to earth day 2029

23 04 2009


I didn’t quite know at the outset how the day would play out – but with promise of sunshine, temps in the 60ºs and fluffy white clouds in the blue sky – I was hopeful.  After all it was Earth Day.  Then again, any time I’m at her house I’m already thinking of how to save the planet, my sanity and whatever bit of cosmic juju I can muster as I battle the forces of junk.  There has to be a great role-playing video game in here somewhere.  Or maybe a new reality show.

Nonetheless, I was on the road early because I knew that my first challenge was the “big brown bin”.  I’ve spoken before about how I have tempted the gods of garbage as I switched trash haulers on her after years and years and years with some other company who’s prices went up as fast as the cable company’s.  By 10 p.m. the night before, I knew I was doomed since I hadn’t reminded her to take the thing out and put it curbside. So I was racing the clock, trying to get there before the truck came by to make sure that they took away last week’s “gathering” of landfill gorge.

It really is (and I’m not kidding here) a struggle to know what to put where.  In my mind’s eye I find myself wandering over the steaming piles of garbage and stumbling on things I recognize that I put there.

But I also know that it isn’t fair to give real junk to Goodwill. Yesterday they were graced again with various and sundry goodies…old books (that I had to convince her she had never read or would never read), the vintage DA-LITE projector screen we used to pull out to watch home movies (she cocked her head to one side), a contractor’s bag filled with things she couldn’t see and an old suitcase (“But what if…?”  “Mom, it doesn’t have wheels on it!!”  “Oh…”).

She was feeling especially proud that she’d cleared off the desk in Billy’s room and I was secretly panicked that she’d tossed some precious stash (but I think I had hidden all the good stuff).  In another corner of the room beside where he slept, is her sewing machine.

I never had a store bought prom dress.  We even came up with a design for my wedding dress that she made.  Maybe on a few occasions in the last 30 plus years has she hauled it out.  She hated all the “mess” that Billy had stored underneath – transistor radios out the wazoo, a half a dozen flashlights, a space blanket and lots of empty padded envelopes, old greeting cards – I can’t go on…you get the picture.

So that was my main focus for the day.  Lo and behold – the majority of the bulk was remants of fabric.  I started making a pile.  I have already memorized the city’s recycling brochure and had noted places that took donations of handiwork and the like.  They were going to be so “blessed” today with my haul!

When I had it all assembled, I asked her to just eyeball it before I took it out to the car.  The earth shifted…it got very very quiet…we were in a freeze frame.  She gave me a look that screamed “Oh no you DON’T young lady!!!”

I had crossed a line that I recognized.  I’ve been here before with Billy many many times…that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing now and never got it done then.  Out of the pile of “dreams” – there was only one little scrap of material that she was ready to be done with.  Even when I was mouthing the words “When on EARTH are you EVER going to get your SEWING MACHINE out again?”…she was hearing “You USED to DO this but you CAN’T ANYMORE so let’s just TOSS out any hopes that you had!!”

If I’ve learned anything through this process it is that we, as human animals, get alot of our identity from things we once did or dream about doing someday.  A box of fabric scraps – as much as I’d like to see them in someone’s hands today that will do something with them – are intricately tied to her self-worth and dignity – who she was, the contribution she made and how she still “feels” on the inside.

Billy is gone but she is not.  She needs to move through HIS STUFF now but I had better beware applying the same principles to her for the time being.  This is one tightrope I’m walking and I don’t want another misstep.  I packed up a box-worth of odds and ends and put it back in the bottom of the closet…it was no longer under the sewing machine – just re-located…she was happy.  Yikes!

I turned my attention to something I knew was a safe zone  – a box full of batteries.  Since they have yet to invent some way of just visually determining whatever power they have left – I needed a battery tester I could read.  Billy, being the Mr. Fixit guy he was, had the REAL deal there but I am too dumb to figure out which red wire goes to where when the black wire is touched to the bottom, etc.   So I went and got a gizmo I could handle and started in.

The guy at the store even gave me a hand full of plastic bags and asked me to only put three per bag which helps him out with the recycle process.  So my Earth Day adventure consisted of 1 bag to the “Big Brown Bin” for next Wednesday morning’s haul, a car full to Goodwill and this nice little cache of batteries to recycle.

I had planned on staying over night and getting more done…but I felt that it was imperative to restore the necessary chi and harmony in the universe for me to high tail it north so I could sit and be surrounded by MY STUFF and laugh at what is in store for Shop Girl and Best Boy – Earth Day 2029.



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