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The things we leave behind

February 17, 2011

A weathered boot I saw in an alley behind my apartment

The snow is already melting. Today was 58 degrees in Boston and runners were everywhere in shorts and tank tops! As the snow melts, all the things that were frozen inside those mounds of snow are starting to surface. I’ve seen windshield wipers, plastic bags, scarves, a single mitten, a crumpled lottery ticket, bags of potato chips, bottle caps and styrofoam coffee cups.

I feel the way archeologists must feel when they encounter pottery fragments or pieces of human bone. Ok, my discovery is on a much smaller scale. But it’s still so interesting to see the remnants of people’s lives. What do people leave behind? And why? Where were they going when their scarf blew off or when they tossed the lottery ticket?

For me, it’s even more interesting than digging through ancient ruins because these discards are recent. They’ve been frozen for less than a few months. They’re still warm (figuratively). I’m sure someone knows where that mitten came from. But eventually enough time will pass and people will forget. It will have been so long since these things belonged to anyone that they will truly become garbage–things that aren’t wanted, that won’t be claimed, that don’t even exist in someone’s memory.

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