Discarded scraps of life are thick on the ground in a city of this size. Most of the time these are simply the empty fast food cartons and used prophylactics that I step over on my way to work each day; they are ubiquitous in a way that does not inspire curiosity or reflection. (Although I suspect the blood-soaked feminine products frozen to the sidewalk will never be something I really get used to.)
But sometimes the unforeseeable gives me pause. Tonight, in front of a strip mall stationary store, the trash can is stuffed and overflowing. On the sidewalk next to it is a DSW boutique bag with a shoe box inside. Are there still shoes inside? I wonder. Did some harried fashion victim set it down to franticly text-message, and then wander off, forgetting her new pumps? Or is it a cleverly disguised bomb, as terrorists move to strike at the kitschy heart of the petty urban bourgeoisie? Atop the trash can is perched a shiny toaster. I do not have any theories regarding this. I find it remarkable, and so I remark.
At times it is difficult to decide whether it is flotsam or jetsam that lays on the ground at my feet. Did these things fall from the vessel of someone’s life through unhappy accident, to be missed later? Or were they deliberately cast overboard, out of boredom, desperation, or pique? Such questions arose in my mind as I gazed at the mismatched bra and panties crumpled on the pavement in front of the bench at the bus stop early one spring morning. I was of two minds about these artefacts. One part of me said “Whoa, don’t want to know about that.” The other (obviously dominant) part of my consciousness said “Well, there’s a story here.…” Honestly, I have no idea how that first part of my mind had survived this long.