Carbonated water cans, beer bottles, Yogi Tea boxes, cinnamon jar, yogurt containers, Cheerios box.

 

Lazy, we throw them into a big box next to the dryer and the broom, and in the same closet as the cleaning sprays that Kate buys. If it was up to me I’d use water and vinegar like I do on the floors, instead of 409 and the other ohmygod toxic stain removers. But in fairness, if it was up to me, Kate would say, the house would be filthy. Just like the dishes, half-washed on the drying rack. Crusted with three cheese spaghetti sauce or yogurt or peanut butter. Maybe.

The big box as a receptacle is lazy because the recycling needs to go into a plastic bag. Which we could just reach up to the top shelf and pull down once the big box is emptied, and not have to go through this duplicative unloading process.

I squish the cans, unfold the boxes. Then drop the half full bag in the box. I think to myself that when we lived in Kansas we had a compactor. Right next to the sink. Did all this crunching automatically. I lived in Kansas when I was seven or eight or ten. I don’t remember maybe six. But we lived there when my mom was alive.

So menial-cleaning-in-laundry-room thought number one is when we lived in Kansas we had a garbage disposal. We. Because mom hasn’t disappeared? Because family exists even when they’re not present or assembled? I didn’t wonder that then, but I wonder it now. What I think then is about Kansas and the garbage disposal and how compared to now it felt like we were living large, feeding off the fat, America was good then, prosperous, economy booming. We had a compactor.

My mom is the sky I look up at 5 in the morning when I’m walking the dog, the winky stars I sometimes but rarely take note of. What I mean is when I can’t figure out what’s causing a mood sensation—not tired and therefore irritable nor deprived of writing time and therefore irritable— mom is the constellation of unknown causes that I look to. Maybe it’s because I have no mom. The more months pass, the more other people’s moms die. The older I get, the more normal mom-less-ness is. I tell myself. The less excuse-worthy my circumstances, I tell myself. estion because you can’t ever really perform this thought experiment.

It’s October. And she died in eleven days.

I would say I’m going to shave my head today but I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep.

My mom is the sky I look up at 5 in the morning when I’m walking the dog, the winky stars I sometimes but rarely take not of. What I mean is when I can’t figure out what’s causing a mood sensation—not tired and therefore irritable nor deprived of writing time and therefore restless— mom is the constellation of unknown causes that I look to. Maybe it’s because I have no mom, I reason. Or the trauma of sudden death, I suppose. But the more months pass, the more other moms die. The older I get, the more normal mom-less-ness is, I tell myself. The less excuse-worthy my circumstances, I tell myself.

I don’t think this is how grief works. Maybe it is, and I’m just being selfish.

My mom kept a gardening journal in the nightstand on her side of the bed. I read a few pages after she died. There were diagrams of flower beds. It spanned multiple years. She took note of how one spring differed from the next. Cursed the damn deer and rabbits. I hope someone saved this. I should have saved this.

That’s another reason I think diary is such a dope gift. We won’t always be around.