Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

The Reality of My Surroundings

Heather and I, we’re creative types. And, like many creative types, we know what an immaculately designed, pristinely clean house would look like. We just can’t can’t seem to keep one. Our house cleaning happens in fits and starts, usually when someone’s on their way over.

So, lately, I’ve tried to tidy up more. Just little things, like grabbing a bag of recycling and taking it down to the trash cans on my way out. Stuff like that.

Best laid plans.

So today, when Heather was wandering the house saying, “where’d that bag go?”, I got a kind of nervous feeling.

“The bag in the hall? The one full of recycling? That bag?” I asked.

“No, the bag with my laundry stuff and the Sunday New York Times that I haven’t read yet.” she said.

“Excuse me.” I said.

I ran downstairs to the garbage bins. They’re lined up five across in the entryway to our building. As I was tearing through them, trying desperately to find the wife’s lost belongings and wondering how a can that holds mostly cardboard could smell so bad, I felt someone’s eyes on me.

I looked up and saw her. One of the local Cole Valley crazies. Not homeless, but close. This skinny woman I’ve seen many times, always at night, always wearing a tight wool cap and a faraway look. But this time, she was looking directly at me.

The missing bag was nowhere to be found. People sort through these cans five times an hour. It’s just something you get used to living in the city. I let the top of the can slam down and sighed.

The woman said, “Yuppies throw out the greatest shit, huh?”

I paused. So many retorts came to mind, but I decided to stick with honesty. “I live here,” I said. “I threw out something by mistake earlier.”

“Oh,” she said, her eyes returning to that faraway gaze. “Oh.” She turned and walked back into the night.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.