Our family recycle bin contains the usual characters;
empty boxes from devoured pizzas, or peaches of local fruit farms, or even corn squares cereal. In our bright green bin, you can find discarded containers of Gain laundry detergent, 100% Apple Juice, Soy milk, and vitamins. If you look closely enough, you can even spy a stray can or two of beer that was consumed on a sedate evening of repose after a long day at the office or jail.
My daughter works as a prison guard, or a correctional officer, as is the preferred term these days.
I am a photographer. My job entails taking inanimate objects, finding their beauty through a lens, and then posting and boasting their finer qualities online for potential buyers.
My daughter gets to go to a place of confinement every evening, and watch humanity spiral down through the hell(s) of violence, addiction, and mental disabilities. She is not trained nor encouraged to look for the beauty in anything or anyone.
Instead, she is conditioned to keep a lid on things, maintain complete control in an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty, and be ever alert for swelling problems and threatening situations.
Our discarded beer cans do not belong to me. After a day of creativity and art work, I do not feel the need to decompress or shed layers of negativity or danger.
But my daughter does, and neither I, nor anyone else has the right to tell her that she can’t.
So we keep on with our daily lives, earning our money as best as we can. Our empty beer cans and pizza boxes sit weekly on our curb, waiting to be recycled once again into a necessary trade.