Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wasted Wishes

There they were, all of the unused birthday candles mixed among the coffee grounds and eggshells with the rest of the refuse. And as I looked down on those wasted wishes with waxed-over wicks in the bottom of my waste basket, although I had long stopped believing in birthday magic made real with the extinguishing of tiny little torches, it just felt wrong. But I flipped down the lid and pressed on with my packing. The movers were coming in the morning.

There were just so many of them! I had obviously been saving up for my husband’s 171st birthday. A collection of half-used cartons of mismatched colors all shoved to the back of the cupboard along with leftover sprinkles and recycled twist-ties and plastic straws and paper straws and paper-wrapped plastic straws. The leftovers of birthdays past, now with no hope of making it to birthdays future.

Not that they really had much hope in the first place. My over buying of birthday candles has never been because I couldn’t remember that I had them. I knew that I did. It was that I just couldn’t ever remember how many I already had. So I’d wind up getting however many I needed for that year and shoving the rest in the back of the cabinet with all of the other leftovers, because there would always be another birthday.

And so they’d continue to accumulate in the small cabinet above the sink that was rarely opened and never inventoried…until now. When I was face to face with my warped sense of thrift. A Midwestern virtue that was nearing vice. So I quickly chose to declutter.

But it felt so weird. As if I was doing something wrong. Disposing of hope, right there in my kitchen.

So I took a bunch out and lit them. Then blew them out. And I learned something…

Don’t light and blow out a bunch of candles all at once in a small apartment. It sets off the smoke detector. 

Good thing we were moving, because we definitely needed a bigger place.

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