Garbage Cans on the Streets of Suburbia

The skate clatters towards the bottom of the driveway – delta between home and road – trembling all the while like a dead leaf.

Story by By Leah Kaminsky - leah.kaminsky.writes@gmail.com Photos by Icarus Blake

No Parking Photo ©Icarus Blake

At 7:35, she turns the key in the lock, jiggles the handle, and heads down the driveway. Her high heels click to the steady beat of a woman on her way.

It’s Thursday and the garbage cans line up and down the streets of suburbia – little dutiful soldiers waiting for roll call. In an hour they’ll be scattered across the pavement, tipping eggshells and spoiled milk onto the curb. Amongst the littered bodies, one lucky can standing prim and tall as if nothing ever touched it. Garbage trucks, like fate, strike at will.

Two Cars in the Driveway Photo ©Icarus Blake

Midway down the driveway, a blue plastic roller skate sits perched over its red and yellow wheels. It’s not a real roller skate, just that plastic Fisher Price kind you buy for practice, like the car you buy before the house, the pet before the child. It’s strange, the way it’s angled, like the foot it had cradled decided on a whim to lift suddenly, whimsically towards the clouds. So many ways it could have been left there, and yet this was how it happened, this was how it stayed, ever frozen on the brink of motion. The child having run on obliviously, as if there were only ever one way.

Self Storage Photo ©Icarus Blake

The woman looks at her watch. 7:36. She draws her heel back, kicks the skate with the tip of her shoe – that sharp point, that professional feel. The skate clatters towards the bottom of the driveway – delta between home and road – trembling all the while like a dead leaf. She hesitates, then clicks after it, squats down with her skirted knees pressed together, sets the skate gently on the grass. Upright, now. Proper. Still.

Hanging Out to Dry Photo ©Icarus Blake

In the trees, the birds flit between the blossoms. It’s spring and they’re choosing partners, making nests. This had been new to her when they’d first moved out here. City girl, city life, where the pigeons came together suddenly, violently, then lifted up to separate rooftops to fade into the blackened heat. She hated them now, these birds that shit all over her windshield, these trees sneezing yellow over her trunk. These docile neighbors, cocooning behind curtained bay windows, metamorphosing into their parents.

She has a bay window, too. She paid for it – they paid for it together when that stick read yes; it’s happening; get ready, set, go.

Backyard BBQ Photo ©Icarus Blake

At first, she had loved all of the little suburban mom things, like she’d always supposed she was meant to. Tiny, intricate figurines. Spices for the spice drawer. Little shirts, little jeans, little shoes. But amongst so many big things the little things soon became even littler. The days went so quickly, became months, became years. And now there were skates in the driveway. There were schools to apply to. There were parent-teacher meetings; there were PTA’s and prying, competitive eyes. She was swept up in the current; her only anchor the sound of her high heels, clicking against the linoleum. On her way somewhere. Planning something. Doing something. Done.

Bluebonnet Diner Photo ©Icarus Blake

There had been other big things once. There had been train tickets and backpacks and dinner parties in foreign places. The spare, open desert, populated only with her wide-open dreams. Her life yet to arc, daily existence made of firsts she hadn’t known yet would be one-time only, limited offer, too late.

Neo White Picket Fence Photo ©Icarus Blake

7:39. She pulls herself to her feet, traverses the final sweep of the driveway, unlocks the car door, slides into the seat. She thinks of the route ahead of her, so well-traveled, so well-known. Thinks of turning left rather than right.

She could turn the engine. Run her eyes across the dashboard. Spot the steady green glow of the clock. 7:40. 7:41. 7:42. 7:43.

Pull the car into drive. Already late. Time to go.

One Response to “Garbage Cans on the Streets of Suburbia”

  1. Icarus Blake says:

    I shot these pictures last summer. I went back to the same location in the Rockaways after hurricane Sandy and I was traumatized by the damage.