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.

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