Dumpster Dive

Dearest Rachel –

There are times while she’s working that Jan encourages me to get out of the house. Now, sometimes it’s just the fact that I have appointments to keep, and she’s giving me an “I got this” type of reassurance. Other times, she senses I have work to do at the ‘office,’ and other times, she’s trying to establish a rapport with a decidedly reluctant Daniel.

But sometimes, I’m concerned that she just wants me out of the way so she can get what she considers to be her job done, and I am just slowing her down. And I accept that I probably am. The trouble is, there’s a reason to slow her down.

I think her philosophy is that ‘if you haven’t used/thought about an item in X number of years, you don’t need it and should therefore get rid of it. Period, end of story.’ Well, by those lights, I should have gotten rid of the camcorder when it turned up.

That’s the thing: there is stuff in this house that might have had my attention had I known it was there – or that it was still there, depending. And I worry that she might, without me looking over her shoulder, not take that into consideration

Apparently, those fears are somewhat justified.

Last night, Ellen and Erin came over; Ellen, to pick up a few games she had asked me to pull for her collection (and to pick up and drop off certain photographs that have been and will be a part of this blog); Erin, because Ellen was coming over; and both of them to check out the progress being made on the cleaning front. After all, one expects results once three dumpsters have been filled with material of one form or another.

Erin showed me a badge, a button, among a number of similar items that Jan had thrown out late in the previous week while Erin was there and I wasn’t. Some of them were apparently commercial and thus meaningless, but the one Erin held was one of a number I had drawn and assembled when I was in college (I’d had this gadget that manufactured buttons back then – I’d wager it was lost some time ago). I acknowledged that fact to her, and she promptly volunteered to dig around in the dumpster to find the rest of them, as she thought she knew where they had been thrown.

And so there she was, rooting through the dumpster in the gloomy dark like a modern Lara Croft, seeking artifacts from the lost civilization that was me and you.

She did a remarkable job of finding them, too
Yes, I was pretty cynical about life back then.
Although the “Wish you were here” button has a whole new meaning these days.
Sadly, not all of them survived the experience (or my attempts at cleaning them off after having been retrieved) very well.

But there’s no point in complaining about it; were it not for her efforts, just about all of them would have been carted off in the morning with this last dumpster load (which for the first time this month, I actually slept through). An archeologist doesn’t fret over not finding an entire place setting; most of the time, it’s sheer good fortune to find a cracked bowl and a single utensil. You appreciate what you can find, rather than fussing over what you can’t.

Besides, it’s not as if Daniel or I truly needed a button you’d made saying “I ♥ Daniel” or “I ♥ Randy.” To paraphrase the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, we don’t need no stinkin’ badges. We knew all the time that you loved us dearly, and the existence or non-existence of a button telling us that would make no difference to us is that respect. But it would have been nice to have been able to keep that with us.


Honey, it looks like I owe Jan an apology. I think what I’ve told you about here came across as far too harsh, and I have hurt her in the midst of my own attempts at recovering memories.

This story was not meant to reflect badly on anyone. I was more amazed at the fact that Erin mentioned it to me, and immediately offered to look for these things, in a full dumpster, in the dark, unprompted. This is a girl who double-masks at virtually all times, and refuses to eat indoors lest she asymptomatically infect anyone around her with Covid, despite not seeming to have it (although she has been detecting symptoms in herself almost since the pandemic began), and yet, she’ll wade into that pile of junk – and yes, it was all but junk in there – to find something she thought I might find worth saving. And I thought her valiant effort ought to be recognized.

To be honest, had she not mentioned them, and showed me the couple of badges she had saved at the time, I probably would never have thought about it, and most likely never would have missed them. But the slightest sight was enough to remind me of what I had created back in college, what I used to wear on that denim jacket before I turned it into a anime tribute, and I appreciated her offer to retrieve what had been discarded before they were taken away. Yes, we had too much stuff. Yes, I probably still have too much stuff. But once I had been shown and reminded of something I once had and cherished, I knew I needed to keep what I could, and this should have been more a “thank you” to Erin than any sort of word to or about Jan.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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