These are some of the things I noticed yesterday when I loaded up my building’s recycling bins and hauled them out to the curb: cardboard boxes for outdated household appliances printed with sharp angular letters in aesthetic schemes that might be unreproducable with modern printing technology, the box for a tranistor radio kit with a little white mono earphone inside, hundreds of crumbling newspaper clippings – recipes cut out of decades worth of the Seattle Times, a pile of ’60s women’s magazines – Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s, an issue of The Saturday Evening Post with a Norman Rockwell cover, and a copy of the National Enquirer from the year I was born.
There’s an older woman who lived here, in my building, for decades. Her health has declined recently and she’s moved into a nursing home. She’s about the same age as the building. It looks like her family has cleaned out her apartment.
The recycling is picked up every two weeks. Every two weeks the bins are empty and we start filling them up again with our newspapers, wrappers, bottles, and Ikea boxes – things that we’re done with. It just happens that among the things that my neighbors finished using over the last two weeks were these lifetime collections.