We did not have recycling, where I used to live with her. Sometimes the apartment smelled like the cat box, ammonia and flies. Did you know flies smell basically the same as death? That rotting dead-in-a-ditch smell. That’s not the deer mushrooming into rich dirt. That’s the flies. (Don’t quote me on this.) But the cat box could be cleaned at will, and in a few hours, the apartment just smelled like the coconut soap that never quite dries in the shower. So easy!
Everyone else in the apartment building packed their pepsi bottles and miller cans, emptied of toxic vanilla, the smell of exotic lands and long camel-driven trade caravans, and…whatever Miller doesn’t taste or smell like, into white plastic trash bags and would sent their children out in the morning to huck them into the creaky iron trash bin. Most of the children were too short and would simply drop the bags on the ground so that the bags could host a rat-feeding party. Rats smell just this side of better than flies. Like the thick sludge that builds up at the bottom of the trash can below the bag, that brown, catch-at-the-back-of-your-throat, watering mouth gag that reminds you to put the bag back in asap. On their own they smell better, but if you’re lucky, bonus, they bring flies.
I refused to play this throwing-away game, and not only because I had no children to conscript. I told myself that I could do better.
I would box up my recyclables for a few days, and ship them either to work, to my sister’s garage, or up to my parents’ house when I would pick up a box from Amazon, which I had delivered to them, because I had a tendency to change my address every 3-4 months.
But god help us on the days when the sun burned in through the windows for a few hours and I had forgotten to open them while I was at work. Take some caramel, smash it flat, mix it with gum and old wine and six different types of beer that smelled like grapefruit, but now are teaching me the smell of grape-ass. Salt, pepper, and then mix in the week old turkey that she thawed on the counter, but never cooked (and I don’t know why or how that got into the recycling.) Let the sun do its work, and when the vinyl starts to melt, be sure to lock the windows tight to seal in the flavor. Bake at 350 for four to nine hours. Garbage casserole.
Oh. But more. Maybe, ok, just like twice, I left it for two (certainly not three) weeks. That jar of mayo left over from thanksgiving, oh the star of the show in the chicken pasta salad, now abandoned for 11 months, and not closed well after rinsing. And of course it was the organic kind without preservatives, because why recycle if I’m not buying organic? The mayo grew a green rug that I was tempted to put in our entry way to scrape off the slush and salt, but instead threw out because it didn't match our color scheme. And ok, so I should have cleaned out the container better two weeks ago, and yes, when I walked into the room, I started to go a little blind in one eye. I bet you never knew going blind was a smell.
Two weeks was probably too long.