Gratitude on Trash Day

News flash: I don’t like weakness.

It’s probably my worst quality, my intolerance of weakness in both myself and others. People who know me are very aware that I tend to expect myself to be superhuman. So last night when I had to leave a rehearsal early because I felt sick, I was so annoyed with myself for not being able to power through.

I felt the same aches and fever that I felt about six months ago when I had to take a rare sick day. I had felt out of it all day, but as the evening wore on things got worse, and I realized I wouldn’t make it to the end of rehearsal. Nervous about the drive home I rolled down all the windows, and took it slow hoping not to be sick.

At an intersection near home someone rode his bike right in front of my car as the light turned green. I was miserable and desperate to get home, so I frantically waved to him to get out of my way so I could get through the light. He decided to play a game that involved not moving while I screamed and started to cry. On top of all this, I was on the phone with my mother while I had this meltdown. Lucky for me she’s used to it.

That’s when I remembered it was trash day.

I often joke that a chapter in my memoir will be about trash day in South Boston. Hoards of people picking through trash, my neighbor can lady pulling her weekly all-nighter, and frequently having to hoist three trash cans full of other people’s garbage out from behind the house because I don’t feel like looking at it for another week.

Because I use my back door and my apartment is garden level, I have a front row seat to our garbage area and am probably more invested in it than I need to be. Ten years ago I would have let the trash situation in the apartment become a constant source of rage and stress, but with the zen that comes with age I have put it in a bit more perspective.  True, sometimes people in the building leave bags full of trash on the ground outside my window and cats get into them. Sometimes they leave cardboard boxes that get soaked in the rain and never come back to pull them to the curb. But sometimes they put their trash in the barrels and sometimes they take the trash out.

All I could think about as I drove over the bridge into the neighborhood was that I was going to have to pull two weeks of everyone else’s trash out to the curb when I got home (and that I would probably vomit). When I turned onto my street looking for a parking space I saw a blessed sight: three barrels, out at the curb. Someone else had dealt with the trash this week.

I was weak. I was angry (at myself, at the guy on the bike, at the heat, at weakness). And then, almost against my will, all I could be was grateful.


I wrote much more eloquently on this topic here. I’ll blame today’s rambling on lingering illness.

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