Thursday, March 27, 2008

And today, we went to the dump. Yep. Got up at a reasonable time, drove to Berkeley, rented a U-Haul, drove it back, and filled said U-Haul to the brim with crap.

Remember the Y2K hysteria that some people went through in the final months of 1999? My old co-owner and housemate was one of those people. She bought pounds and pounds of lentils, sea salt, tahini, brown rice and other foodstuffs that no one has eaten lo these past eight years. I'd managed to give away the closet full of canned goods she had hoarded years ago, but we found more...and more...white plastic buckets full of moldy buckwheat, fermented Tamari, and spoiled there no end to this?

Old coils of chicken wire, old appliances, two old mattresses and their box springs, an exerciser bought by my housemate Danny years and years ago which has been rusting out in the backyard since at least the last century. More boxes. Boxes of every shape, size, weight and color, from dozens of people moving in and out. A big plastic mystery dollhouse, all broken down and grimy.

We got rid of pieces of wood, old broken plastic chairs, the old toilet,(C installed a new water-saving comfortable-for-tall-people one yesterday--all by himself!) metal doo-dads, bits and pieces of old windows, trash, trash, trash. Drove it all to the Berkeley dump.

The dump is basically Hell. Here is where capitalism and consumerism come to die. The great happy hunting grounds for scavengers and vermin. Seagulls circle, squawking, over mountains of garbage. We opened the back of the van, put on nose-and-mouth masks, and stood there pitching stuff onto the trash heap that was about three stories high. The noise from nearby bull-dozers was deafening. Every once in a while, the great dripping maw of the yellow dozer ground next to us, scraping and pushing the garbage up higher. The smell was intense. I was glad C had had the foresight to buy masks.

The dump is Hell on two counts. One, the obvious: every single sense is assaulted with ugliness. It looks hideous, it smells terrible, the sounds are harsh. You want to get away but you can't. The second way it is hell is psychological. You are looking directly at the results and consequences of all our heedless acquiring. Here it is, folks. The bubble-wrap. The exerciser you thought you'd use but never did. The bad ideas, the expensive whims, the greed, the waste.

Standing there, sunglasses covering the top half of my face to protect eyes from flying bits of dust and splinters, mask over everything else, I thought of several things:

* Poor people who have to live near dumps and scavenge through them looking for food and clothes and shelter in the Phillipines, in Brazil, elsewhere.

*Ghandi, who died owning only his loincloth, his glasses, his food bowl and a copy of Scriptures.

*Death. I don't know how anyone can visit the dump and not think of death. In my case, I hope I get enough advance warning before my death that I can give everything away. I don't want to die with a house full of junk that someone else has to cart off to the dump.

We ground our way out of there, returned the van, then collapsed at a pizza place. Ate two slices each--C had a couple of beers as well--then crawled back home and into bed. Flop. Nap. We were completely done in.

I confess: I've never before been jealous of C's previous wives or girlfriends. I know he lived with several women before me, and I know some of them had fine qualities. But I was so proud of myself for being such a rugged stud-muffin, able to haul and tote and stand the dump, that when I asked him "Did you ever do this with any of your other women?" and he said "All of them," I felt crest-fallen. I wanted to be the spunkiest bad-ass he had ever partnered with.

Tomorrow's the party. We've still got plenty of cleaning of the home space to accomplish, plus shopping for food and booze and cooking. I was shocked to receive a notice from my synagogue that Tirzah Aggasi had died. She was Martin Buber's granddaughter, a peace activist working towards better Israeli-Palestinian relations, and an acquaintance. I liked her. She was spiritually eclectic, an artist, a filmmaker who nused the medium to promote dialogue and understanding. I believe she had something to do with the film Paradise Now. She looked like she was about my age. Her memorial is tomorrow and I want to take time out from the party prep and go to it.


Anonymous said...

you are one exquisite writer. i am rich with images, sounds, scents, feelings as i read your BLOG.

blessed be. you and me... :)

Alison said...

Thanks--much better to experience the dump vicariously, through reading!