I’ve fulfilled a dream that I’ve been harboring for decades. I’ve ordered a Dumpster. And yes you capitalize it. This one is real and will hold what our real estate agent calls, with a sweep of her hand, “that stuff,” and what I think of as the irreplaceable collections of children and grandchildren and us over the course of almost 20 years in a particular spot in Vermont. I won’t be sappy about it, at least not here.
But there is a lot to be said for offloading. Detritus. Things grabbed and discarded.
There are a few things I’d love to offload that won’t go easily, but there are plenty of others that will fly like the wind out of my head and be taken away to the other dumpster. In other words, I intend for them to disappear. Landfill, fine. Ocean, fine. Somebody else’s head, fine. I don’t care where they go, I just want them out of my head.
Out goes sadness, the kind that comes without warning when the wind hits the trees a particular way, or I think how old my poodles are, or I am, or precious Willy is, or that my grandchildren will soon leave home for college, or that I wasted so much time or that now I have to sell things, or that I spent so much time thinking about things that were useless to me and worse than that, punishing.
Out goes regret. Missing, longing, loss, regret regret regret. Out goes wishing I’d been a better mother, that I’d been more energetic and useful to my grown kids, that I wasted so much time on matters unseen, matters of the head that acted like big black X’s. Entry prohibited. Don’t go there, see that, know that, say that. Out!
Should I have? Should I not have? Was I wrong, selfish, mean, twisted? Out go the questions. Fifty years of waiting, wait until I can, until I figure it out, until I’m sure. Out goes profound regret at wasted time, time I could have been producing, writing things down, making money so Willy wouldn’t have to, leaving something interesting (or not) behind. I can try to catch up now. Out out out, you constant roar too late too late too late. Weeds in my garden, plants out of place, that one bad stone step, the pond unfulfilled who cares? Out out. I will do the best I can. Or not.
And the little things that irritate and shame because they get into the synapses where they cause sparks and then outages. I will get rid of the wonderment that one not-quite-cult leader would bother to find and delete my few words – cute dog, nice head – about his dogs. Search and destroy. His dumb thoroughness, like a riderless backhoe, made me feel dumb too and petty too and not so thorough. But I will be thorough now. Into the dumpster goes the last question – why – that picks, picks, picks at me. The power to delete is power for sure.
All the unfinished projects, ideas, half-knit scarves and gloves and sweaters and afghans, out of my head. Plants not grown, plants left to wither, failure of execution everywhere, why can’t I be more like her or her or her, failure to keep in touch with my cousins, to buy a competent washing machine, to walk and run, to stop slapping myself with come-hither food, books not read, music not listened to, art not seen, wrong things, wasteful of time things, my life and brain, wasted on useless things.
Out of my head. It’s a new day. I have a Dumpster, and I have a dumpster.