By Trina Otero
What I am about to share will most likely bring tears to the eyes of every writer worldwide. And artists. And photographers. Well, anyone with a craft. Ten years’ worth of my writing is squashed under tons [literally] of trash in the Outer Loop Landfill. I didn’t perform an experiment nor did I have a crazy writer’s fit. My father assumed the cardboard box I used to store my writings was a box full of trash. Don’t ask me how. Please. I blame the Super Bowl. I blame his impatience. I blame his lack of observation and attention to detail. And to keep the story flowing, let’s just refer to it as “The Box.”
Don’t get me wrong – he did a good deed while I waited tables for 12 hours on Super Bowl Sunday. He fixed a part under the hood of my car and he decided to clean it, inside and out, afterwards. I admit it looked fantastic, which I haven’t seen my car look that way in a very long time. The Box was in the trunk of my car – I felt more comfortable with my writings close to me at all times. [It was my choice of protection after enduring an apartment fire and a crazy boyfriend who tried to throw my works into a bathtub filled with water.] For some reason my dad thought it was OK, acceptable, normal [?] to toss away items from my car without my consent. The horrible part is – I didn’t realize The Box was missing for two days; however, I did notice right away that my extra spare tire was missing, because hey, it’s a friggin’ tire. It’s humongous. I had three other boxes in the trunk. When I peeked inside after dad cleaned the car I saw my boxes organized in the middle and random car supplies neatly organized on the left and right. I assumed The Box was safely tucked far in the back.
The day I discovered The Box was MIA I freaked the fuck out. Yes, I used the F bomb and I’m sorry. But imagine losing your child, your childhood pet, or your lover. Yes, my works mean THIS much to me.
I sped across the Second Street Bridge [from Louisville to Jeffersonville] and raced home like a mad-woman. My dad was leaving for work – I caught him walking into the garage from inside the house. I confronted him, in tears of course, and I had to repeat my questions over and over until he gave me an “Oh, shit” look. He admitted that he threw away “a lot of stuff” because he thought it was “trash” and he was rushing to get home and watch the Super Bowl.
That Tuesday evening I dug through the dumpster my father used to toss away my life-work. Nothing. I did find other useless rubble that was in my trunk. I tracked the dumpster to the Outer Loop landfill, but when I called the offices were closed. On Wednesday a manager named Kurt delivered the bad news. Apparently, trash is collected on Mondays, and 400-500 trucks dump trash into the landfill each day. My box was at least six feet underground.
My heart was broken. I’m not ashamed to say I was depressed for a week, and four months later the wound is still fresh and I’m still traumatized. I couldn’t communicate with my father for a week. When we finally did speak, we had a difficult, heart-to-heart conversation. I could feel his remorse, he was near tears. I believe this is the moment he realized I am truly a writer. That night he learned I have been writing since I was eight years old. He didn’t even know about the small, blue notebook my ma gave me when I was a kid, which inspired me to write poetry. Who knew? I thought he already knew this stuff about me.
In hindsight I understand I wrote a plethora of life and spiritual lessons that were meant solely for me at the time. Maybe the world wasn’t ready for what I had to say. I will forever be flabbergasted and triste about the decade of work gone, a treasure smashed and lost among trash. However, this unfortunate event did bring my father and me closer to one another. Hopefully, he takes me and my craft seriously.
Now, I try to remain optimistic. I fantasize about someone in the future [hopefully, the near future] who will find my box, read my intimate pieces, deem them as valuable, and share them with the world. My writings could be an ancient artifact one day! Ahh, the mind of a writer. So, here, I give you a verbal treasure map – Outer Loop Landfill, Louisville, KY.
But of course, if anyone knows how I can find it myself…I BEG you to tell me! Por favor.