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March 2, 2020 Nonfiction

A Day's Waste

Aram Mrjoian

A Day's Waste photo

Two palms full of water to rinse the crust from the corners of my eyes and a quick flush of the toilet. I wonder how much water will never be brought back through these pipes. It never runs out and so I brush my teeth, wash the dishes, run another load of laundry, and dig ice from the freezer for my jar of coffee. My phone has been plugged in all night even though it alerts me that it was fully charged hours ago. I flip on lamps, stare into the chasm of the glowing refrigerator. I awoke no more than ten minutes ago and already so much has been consumed. I drive to the gym in clothes I will funk up with sweat so that they can only be worn once before finding a place atop the bulging hamper. When I am finished with each machine, I discard a wet wipe to clean away the marks of my body. The sun isn’t up yet. What constitutes a day? Is it wasteful if it’s served its purpose? Is it wasteful if it is not wasted? The gym shower is steamy, flowing, always ready for my malodorous form. Later, in my office on campus, I’ll realize I forgot silverware again, dig a plastic fork from the middle desk drawer, and toss it licked clean and glistening into the recycling bin after every crumb is scraped from my Tupperware. Another café cold brew, another plastic cup and straw that will never be reused. Another slice of pizza, another paper plate gone gray with grease. I know these small pleasures are nothing compared to my weekly run to the grocery store, the utilities bills I watch like a hawk, the ghastly paper trail of letters and bank statements and books that arrive each day in the mail. I can’t look into a public trashcan anymore without wincing. I can’t watch a pickup truck drive by without brooding over the aroma of exhaust. I drink enough water to force myself away from my desk often. To the bathroom I go, more flushing away of plentiful water, more rinsing and washing my hands that crack and break as they dry beneath a hot gust of air. Every building is well lit just for me, every light automatically turns on as I make a commotion entering the room. When I return home, it’s another plastic poop bag on the dog’s walk, the phone recharging, music erupting from a speaker chained by a cord to the wall. I consume so much I demand so many conveniences I crave foods from distant lands I read under bright light-bulbs humming I let the television talk me down after another stressful day I seek the microwave’s warming buzz and after brushing my teeth again after my contact lenses sit in their plastic case full of fluid from the plastic bottle that I pray will not end up in a landfill after I rinse the gunk from my hair and face and empty my bladder again before bed flushing another gallon of water away are the windows closed are the doors locked let’s seal up this space so that the thermostat sings at a comfortable temperature all night let those appliances hold my food icy crisp all night let my phone charge all night and glow in this quiet house while I curl up with the dog and my wife for this brief abeyance before I devour more tomorrow.  

 

image: Aram Mrjoian


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