Our white trash can caught my eye.
I’m supposed to be listening to AJ across the table from me, I still am I guess, but his voice is blurred in the background while I stare at the stocky plastic trash can we got from Target at the end of our counter.
I wanted to laugh. AJ was talking about work or sports or the next gun part he wants to get for a reason I will never be able to understand and a chuckle almost escapes, remembering.
Before the white trash can was there, I didn’t have one for a while. I had just moved into this apartment that in a couple months would soon be my future husband and I’s first home. With that in mind, I wanted a good trash can.
At 25, I was just starting to peel off the college sunburn way of life: the tendency to invest in double digit priced margaritas and trendy white tennis shoes instead of the basics necessities of life. The barely-in-your-20’s aesthetic of piecing things together from Target and thrift stores and the art of spending as little money on anything to do with being an adult. Dental appointments. Pots and pans. Vacuums. Trash cans.
Now that I faced the very adult decision to get married, I was ready to get a really good one. Sick of a trash can smelling, looking gross, not closing right, and the lid coming off. Sick of those plastic white ones from Target that was stationed at every college dorm and apartment I ever had.
I told AJ over the phone sitting at my desk where our living room is now that I want a really nice trash can. They are expensive but we eventually narrowed it down to one that was still absurdly priced but less than the others with everything we wanted. It was silver. Tank-like. Industrial. Like we had a professional restaurant in our kitchen.
When it finally arrived, it had a huge dent right in the corner of the silver body. Bummed we sent it back. Ordered another one.
Weeks later we got it and it was amazing. HUGE. My mom warned us about the trash bags and how the size of our trash can would make it difficult to find bags, but that was the last of my concerns. It had a soft close lid. A sturdy pedal. Little metal bars that held the bag in place.
Jenna, one of my friends from Wisconsin, flew into Austin for my bachelorette party and the first thing she noticed when she stepped into my future husband and I’s future home was the garbage can, “It’s so huge!”
We got married. Forgot about the trash can. Happy to never think about buying one ever again.
One Saturday I came back from a brunch date and our silver trash can was staring at me in our backyard.
“Cockroaches” AJ said.
I am convinced we had cockroaches in our kitchen because of that trash can. They loved the smell. Since it was so big, AJ didn’t have to take it out as often. And since it was black, we never even knew they were there. Until, well, you know.
We had to clear out our whole kitchen for the roach guy to come. And I mean our WHOLE kitchen.
On a random and not notable day, we got a new trash can. One third the price. At Target. A stupid plastic white one.
It’s much smaller. Shorter. Hides at the end of our light kitchen counter. We have to take it out more often, but we haven’t had any bugs since.
I turned back to AJ across our wooden table still talking about a gun part. Sports?
We don’t know what we are doing. We try.
The little trash can in our relationship needs to be taken out often.
In our less-than-a-year-old marriage we learned quick that we have to talk about smelly stuff—regularly. Admit things to each other. Ask questions. Answer them. And answer again. Remind. Apologize. Describe. Explain. Explain deeper. Vulnerability feels gross, but our emotional waste can’t sit there for too long or it will, well, you know.
An extra-large trash can doesn’t work well in our marriage or our house.
As much as I tried to avoid it, I have a soft spot for that trash can whenever it catches my eye. I hate how quickly it fills up, how dirty it looks with every spill and paper plate rub, but it reminds me of the innocence of a young couple figuring it out. The preciousness of growing up. A lesson learned. Good intentions.
And sometimes your best intentions are trash. You just don’t know. Then you know: The best thing for us is taking out the trash more often than not.
So if I had to guess, we will being taking out the trash for the rest of our lives, and most likely in one of those plastic ones from Target.