My zone in the garage, the “after” picture.
Lately, I’ve been a brave little buckaroo.
I’m learning to purge.
Don’t worry, I’m not upchucking. Bulimia will never tempt me. It doesn’t take all my fingers to count the times I’ve experienced what Hank the Cowdog calls reverse perestroika since I was twelve years old.
I’m Throwing. Things. Away.
Somehow, growing up, I developed a hatred of waste. As poor as we were, there was always the sense that “someone else might be able to use this.” The facility with which some folks fling something like a dirty towel into the trash, makes me wince. I feel righteous indignation at the disposable society that we’ve become.
So we recycle. We use stuff until it is no longer usable. We take stuff other people are pitching if we can use it.
Our culture has become so affluent that we cannot even give stuff away. The local Salvation Army went under, in a bankrupt sort of way, because their trash bill was greater than their receipts. Think about it.
My personal little MySpace, the zone in the garage (I prefer the British pronunciation: GAIR-azh) under my dominion, was, well, beyond the beyonds. The lovely counter was invisible. It was the landing zone for all kinds of stuff. Leftover garage sale remnants, old curricula that no one wants, papers to file – in short, the detritus of decades of my life.
Every three years or so, God blesses me with the perfect mindset for this kind of job. I stiffen my sinews, twist my head looking aside, and start filling garbage bags. Those large, round earrings that no one would take? Gone. Clipboards galore? Out of here. My favorite mug, chipped right were you sip? Trashed. Boxes saved and tumbling over everything? Recycle.
Then there was the file cabinet. Stuffed so full that your knuckles began to hurt as you approached it. Good stuff mixed with useless rubbish. In one moment, I broke an eccentric little habit that even my husband didn’t know I had. I saved years of utility bills. When the file got too large, I made a ledger of notebook paper and wrote the information down from each month’s bill before I tossed it. Our kilowatt usage, price per kilowatt, and amount paid. Water, gas, electricity, phone. Years of information. That’s why I didn’t answer your letters timely, Mel!
In an epiphany of blinding clarity, I asked myself, Why? So in 1983 we paid $17 a month for water. How does knowing that help me? Out they went, pages of useless information. It was a Neil Postman moment.
But I admit to being a little lost. How do you do it? Do you save three months at a time? A year? Nothing?
A. HA!! I need to switch to online bill paying and voila! my paths will be made straight.
But I am curious. How do normal people file their bills?
Oh beautiful counter, it’s so good to see you again.