The local Recycling Barn is always one of my Saturday destinations. This morning, bag in hand, I was gathering items to bring along: newspapers, glass and plastic, a broken lamp, books, the wine glass I won at a Pampered Chef party last night, some random beaded necklaces, etc. Some things are trash and some are waiting to be someone else’s treasure. I picked up a pair of neon green sunglasses from my dresser and considered. Last summer these were handed out at the Color Run 5K. It was a beautiful day, perfect for running, and my first race with my 19 year old daughter. Warm memories. The glasses were a cute keepsake but honestly, they’d been gathering dust on my dresser since last summer. Did I really need to keep these? I hesitated.
Adeline and I after the Color Run–
I’d already had to remove the green sunglasses to use my prescription ones.
Another more recent memory stirs, this one from a discussion in my first grade classroom. We were talking about Ezra Jack Keat’s classic, Peter’s Chair. At the beginning of this story. Peter is upset because all his blue childhood things are being painted pink for his new baby sister. At the end he’s happily painting his blue baby chair pink with his dad’s help. After reading the story aloud I asked my students what happened to Peter in this story. Why does he change? A small hand shot into the air. “I think Peter learned that he doesn’t need to keep things, like his blue chair, to keep his memories of being a baby.” Out of the mouths of babes. I threw the sunglasses into the bag.
At the Recycling Barn, I unloaded and emptied the recycling into the designated wooden containers. Then I wandered over to the “shopping” area to drop off the neon green glasses and other items. I placed them on the shelves, setting the green glasses next to someone else’s discarded vase. I love seeing what is resting on these shelves and imagining who will take each item. There is an ever-changing mixture of things, ranging from new to should-be-discarded. Over the years I’ve brought home mugs, games, baskets, a Melitta electric kettle, two boxes of new Williams-Sonoma bakeware, a pristine small step ladder, and always books, books, books. There is a huge book swap/library area and I never know what I’ll find, which is part of the allure. Today in the kids’ section, I scored a great book to use as a mentor text in Writers’ Workshop next year. After a cursory glance through the remaining stacks, I grabbed another book (this one for me) and then cut myself off.
Heading out, I paused at the door as two men, one younger and one middle-aged, moved a gigantic, hideous, plaid couch out of the building. When I walked outside after them, I looked across the parking lot, curious to see what vehicle would hold this behemoth. There it was, a small four-door car, back seats already brimming with plaid cushions. I stopped for a moment to watch, wondering how this was going to work. The two men aligned the couch with the car then paused. After a brief conversation, they hoisted it upward, grunting, flipping it onto the roof. The face of the middle-aged man turned bright red with the effort and I worried momentarily about his cardiac health. After a tense moment, with a bit of jostling, the sofa settled upside down atop the car, looking a bit like a canoe with ends overextending the length of the roof. The men smiled, appearing well pleased with themselves and the older man’s face resumed a more healthy color.
I placed my books and leftover bags in the back of my car and reversed slowly in the soggy dirt parking lot. As I drove away, two more people emerged from the long, low building. I glanced over and saw a 6 or 7 year old boy walking out with his dad. He was wearing a ball cap and a winter coat and on his face, he was sporting a neon green pair of sunglasses.