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Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee: The Funeral of a Viking (1893)
" … that familiar haunting ignorance that comes from not even caring anymore what's lurking behind that door."

Untethering must be one of the earlier stages of SettlingInto anything new. The past must be rendered irrevocably past to make room for the next story's future. Certain rituals must be observed, prominent among them refrigeratoricide, where one must, with deliberate purpose, let go of everything that had been cluttering the family refrigerator since just after the last ice age. Every damned half pint of sweet gherkins must go. So must almost everything left, except, of course, The Muse's precious jar of Maraschinos. The disposal should rightly start smoking in response. The separation of garbage and recyclable must leave you wondering what tractor beam trance had insisted upon this curious inventory. Try to save the cheese if you can, but heartlessness demonstrates dedication to The Plan. Are you deeply invested in SettlingInto something new? First trash whatever's remaining within your blackhole refrigerator.

Our fridge had evolved to that point where nothing ever put into there could ever be found again.
I think this a natural culmination of the overuse of barely translucent Tupperware® and the transcendent carelessness that seems to just come with SettlingInto anywhere. The fridge door becomes so overstuffed with the remains of sauces which could apparently only ever be used once and which only come in HUGE family-sized containers that it requires almost an act of god, and a benevolent one, to find space for even a single long-necked bottle of beer in there, which explains why I have grown to insist upon a garage fridge, one where beer receives its proper priority and where crusted leftover bottles of sweet chili sauce are simply not allowed. As clean as the standard kitchen seems, a cesspool quietly hums within each and every one.

It never seems convenient to clean out cold clutter. Maybe the warmer stuff: potatoes, onions, garlic, and such, turn over on almost a weekly basis, but that bottom fridge drawer very likely holds a parsnip that dates to the late Roosevelt administration and has grown invisible from long unconscious avoidance. The Muse can often find what did not exist for me in there. I explain why I hadn't eaten some leftover we'd apparently held in great abundance. I just could not find it. I explain that I searched just as diligently as any bloodhound might, but still came up empty. She, without hardly looking, extracts the item in question, handing it to me as if I truly must be the idiot she always suspected me of being. Anything placed in that cold box dies for me the moment it gets stuffed in there. Only she can ever lay a glove on that stuff.

On garbage day morning, it's not uncommon for me or her or even the both of us together, to enter a science experiment frenzy where almost everything mouldering within Tupperware® gets inspected for the probable presence of a science experiment. Those times come closest to the great Untethering purge, but seem lame by comparison. That final push is necessarily a brutal affair. Almost a whole quart of pickled asparagus, from which a single spear once graced a rare Bloody Mary, goes bye-bye forever. Whatever remorse accompanies this unceremonial purge must somehow be balanced with the lust for the promised fresh SettlingInto. We'd somehow perverted our deeper purpose over time. Each of us became the secret protector of something we'd very likely never use. The Muse maintained a mysterious complement of pickled things whose use remained absolutely mysterious yet still managed to overfill the entire top shelf. Any idle recognizable falling in with that top shelf crowd would never again be seen except and until the great refrigeratoricide occurred as preface to SettlingInto something new.

Four shiny black contractor trash bags waved goodbye to us as we pulled away from the scene of our crime. They contained mostly crusted sins of omission we'd committed unwittingly over time. Our exit represented a temporary end to that unwitting time and introduced one where we'll live a smidge more mindfully and present, absent the resident archives. A time when we will not need to go so blind to whatever we'd accumulated. A time, perhaps, when the fridge no longer serves as a time capsule. A time where blacken Romaine remains unthinkable, where science experiments belong to scientists, and the acrid scent of month-old lasagna mold is not such a common occurrence. This old end begets a fresh beginning, and though we can predict with certainty that we'll very likely come to turn back into who we always used to be, the promise of different lures us forward without, for once, that familiar haunting ignorance that comes from not even caring anymore what's lurking behind that door.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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