As I backed out of my driveway this morning, I was reminded that it was Wednesday. Humpday to weary 9-to-5ers, but also garbage day for those of us on the mid-week rotation with Franklin Disposal. I put the Pilot in park. As I wheeled my big blue receptacle to its resting place, I felt a sense of peace. No big deal, I know this. However, there were many Wednesday mornings at the beginning of this 9-year journey that I felt ‘not peace.’ At times I felt sad, or angry, but not usually peace. I remember that first day in May 2008 when I rolled the garbage can back down the driveway in my fuzzy pink bathrobe. It was probably the first time I had done that in 5 years. Always in divide and conquer mode, Brian did garbage can duty. I did morning routine duty. I did hair, sock searches, and refereeing of early morning squabbles over cereal and pop-tarts. Brian did garbage duty for almost 20 years. I remember looking up and seeing my neighbor, Julie, as she watched with tears in her eyes. She also knew that Brian King did garbage duty. Brian was gone.
I was not sure I could do it, not garbage-can-duty, of course. It was everything all at once and nothing would ever be the same. The garbage can became a symbol for me over the years.
I am not sure why, but I didn’t adjust well to the garbage-can-duty-thing. I was confused about how early the garbage guys would come, and what about holidays? Seems so simple as I type this, but I often found myself trying to race, bed-head and barefoot, to get to the street before the schedule-conscious truck passed, often leaving the can at the curb past the HOA acceptable time limit. This of course causing an appointed deputy of all things Homeowner Association-like to issue me a helpful reminder delivered by personal post. It was a struggle. However, there are many things I handled with ease, much more complicated, time-sensitive, and consequential matters that others might find overwhelming, but I never quite fused the nuances of refuse disposal into my sub-conscious. When I forgot the schedule or missed the memo concerning holiday pick-up in those early days, I can remember just being angry all over again at the thought that garbage-can-duty was supposed to be Brian’s.
In case you were beginning to worry about me, I am actually quite adept at the job of Trash Captain now. I made a deal with “The Man” when I moved to let me leave my “Big-Blue” by the house so there is no remembering to put it on the curb, only to put bags in the can. Smart! This morning, though, I was reminded of all those feelings in those early days, and I realized I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. Peace.
More changes are in store and I am moving into new space again. My baby-girl is out of high school and she is not a baby. She is grown-up. She will not be living with me in just two short months, and I feel different but good.
It is almost like reluctantly moving to a much smaller home, but then finding out that the view is more amazing.
I am transitioning to a new place. I am going from I have to, to I get to. I no longer have to have milk in the house because I am responsible for other humans, but I get to cook dinner when everyone comes home because it brings me joy... There will be no lunches to have to pack (even though I enjoyed it) for Hatty this fall, but getting to schedule coffee or lunch with her across town when it works for both of us. She buys her own shampoo and tampons. I don’t have to check the school calendar. I don’t need to pull the parent duty.
I get to choose how I spend my free time. Weird.
I get to check in with my older girls to see what is important and have meaningful exchanges without the need to make all the decisions for them. I am a silent investor now. I am still deeply vested, but they have their own big-blue-responsibilities and I have mine (Yay). It is the same with the garbage now. It is my big blue receptacle. Who’s else would it be? I get to roll it back to its resting place and be thankful to have a curb on which it can sit, at the corner of a yard, where the house is my own.