I am working from home today or I would have missed the arrival of not one, but two very large bulk trash hauling trucks pulling up on the block. For the past two hours, a team of workers have been loading furniture so decrepit that it would be impossible to give away on Freecycle or to have the Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries take away and resell. There have been dozens of huge plastic trash bags and who knows what else (I am only watching intermittently as work presses on) going into the trucks.
When I first moved in to my house 20 years ago December, Mrs. J was already elderly — probably in her mid to late 70s) and her son, who lived with her was not a young man. I tried being polite when I first moved in, but there was no receptivity even to ordinary saying hello and good day. The son (I had originally thought husband by his looks; he was gray, heavy, and unhealthy), used to sit on the porch at night and smoke cheap cigars that stank so much I needed to keep my front windows closed. After he died, only a few years after I had moved in, Mrs. J, started having even more difficulty connecting and making sense and was progressively more hostile in her interchanges with me. She did still go to church and people from the church would visit, unfortunately often to take advantage of her. A grand daughter also would stop by on very rare occasions in recent years (more it seemed to check out the property then to take care of her grandmother). As the years went by, the house has fallen into serious disrepair to the point that it, being attached to mine, has started impacting my house as well.
Every once and a while, Mrs. J would ask me for help. She was afraid of the young men who lived next door (who appeared based on both things I have witnessed, circumstantial evidence, and interrelationship with law enforcement authorities to be consistently involved with drugs, guns, and a variety of criminal activities). But that family had lived next door to her for years, and she did not know how to lock her door to them. She asked me what to do, but I did not really have an answer that would serve. Over the years she occasionally would come out and yell at me about the rats in her yard, even though she had open garbage cans stored on the side of her house. I did not disabuse her; what would have been the point, but I did regularly treat for rats in a way that would take care of both of our yards. A couple of years ago, when she had gotten truly frail, she came outside one day when I was working in the garden and complained to me that a homeless person she had met at church brought bed bugs into her house. I found someone from the church and asked the church to find someone to treat for the bedbugs. It appeared that the matter was resolved, because she did not bring it up again. Over a year ago, Mrs. J was hit by a bus and sustained a minor fracture to an arm. It was discovered, though, that she was incapable of taking care of herself, and she never came back.
Now the bulk trash trucks are here. What would it be like to have lived for decades with things that others see only as trash? To have had (along with whatever good) so much fear, bitterness, and frustration for that time? What will happen to the house now that the trash and the memories are being cleared out? To some extent we choose how we will live. The house itself is in structure almost identical to mine and in the same wonderful location just blocks from the US Capitol. Although the contents do not seem able to be salvaged, will someone treat the house as a treasure? Witnessing the trash hauling makes me want to be ever more mindful of what I consume (materially and energetically), what I hold on to, and what I release and send out.