More Once Upon A Time

29 Dec

As the year winds down, I find myself contemplating the visible changes around me; new neighbors next door, an alleyway resurfaced, and the discards on the street which have found their way into the washing machine in the basement. If children’s clothing continues to show up in cardboard boxes on the street, I soon will have a large carton to send to the Philippines for the use of my friend Remy’s extended connections. One shirt still had its price tag of $17.99 on it, and the number of small matched and unmatched socks give me pause. The size is much smaller than my own memory of the washing machine on the family orange grove, but the daily maintenance it represents makes my head swim. Mothering is in part the mastery of dailiness, and these discards are formidable reminders of those repetitions.

These discards also make me realize several things – the cult of discards, for one, and a certain unwillingness by San Francisco’s occupants to utilize the pickup services of Recology, the welcoming
counter of a Goodwill drop off or the truck behind a Salvation Army thrift store. Finally, it makes
me realize that the physical abundance it represents is a far cry from my childhood in the ‘Thirties,
and in the decades between there has been a population explosion, which somehow has severely dented
the practice of thrift amongst a swath of individuals under perhaps fifty.

Ah, yes, once upon a time frugality was not only a necessity; it was prized. Once upon a time.

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