Two mornings a week I care for my almost two year old grandson. After twenty-eight years of living far away from most of my kids, this is a novel and rare privilege.
It’s important for me to arrive on time, and timeliness is not one of my virtues. But this morning I head out the door a little early. When I “bump” into the school bus turning in front of me onto the road I was about to turn on, I decide to go straight which is the long way round.
I’m traveling a meandering country road on a small island. I’ve been this way before. Getting lost never occurs to me. My passage, however, is halted abruptly by a large recycling truck. It’s yard waste day. At first I’m fascinated watching the technologically savvy machinations of this marvelous being of a truck. A large tooth grabs the handle of the gigantic plastic waste bin and turns it upside down. All kinds of twiggy green things fall into the maw and then a toothless gum, a slick slide of metal, drops down over the whole green and brown mess and gobbles itup, tucks it into the bowels.
Julia Butterfly Hill once asked provocatively, “Where is away?” Away, in this case, is a giant community compost pile which is great, good and dandy. This island is a hotbed of green thinking, which is also good and dandy. The recycling program is massive and puts Montana’s to shame. ( Remember I recently moved from Montana.) But each week, huge trucks also come by to pick up the garbage. Though it is less than it once was because of recycling, and it is appropriately smushed and condensed, garbage still mounts up. Where does it go? Where is away? I’m not sure. I see huge barges in Puget Sound carrying garbage south, toward the ocean. I worry that the sea might be considered “away”… but we’re learning that it isn’t.
Precious moments are passing as I snail my way forward. Narrow road, big truck, men intent on their work, me lost in billowing thought clouds. Yikes, I’ve got to get going. I see my opportunity. My small car can just squeeze between the truck and a hedge. I grab the eyes of the man nearest to me and pantomime my request for permission to pass. He nods a yes. I scoot by and begin racing at the 30 mph speed limit. I follow the edge of the island, water to my left, land to the right as it should be. I sail around a corner and realize I haven’t been here before. Euclid Ave NE says a sign. I turn left which must be right! Euclid Ave North…Oh my gosh, . . .just keep going. Euclid Ave. SW. oh noooooo. Should I stop and make a call on my cell? No keep going. Euclid Road South by NorthEast…no no no just keep going. Finally an intersection I recognize. I’m back on track.
I roar around the turn into my family’s street and my son’s car is still parked in their driveway. It should be at the Van Pool Lot, not here. Is he sick? No there he is, briefcase in hand, coming toward my car.
“Hi, Mom. I decided to take a later ferry today so I could say, “Hey.” I’ve been missing you. I’ve got to run now though.”
Shucks. I missed a sweet opportunity. You just never know when going straight is going to throw you a curve. You know what I mean?
And I still don’t know about the destination of my garbage. Do you?