Trash Compactor Theory

I was driving with a migraine that I had had for the past two days and I couldn’t keep my eyes open when I had the awful thought that I was dying, that being on the road stuck behind someone going 15 mph in a 25 zone was actually my brain’s last dying gasp, and that it was a sure sign that for all of my past transgressions against God and the planet I was to be punished for eternity going ten below the speed limit. I’ve been caught behind people going below the speed limit all week. It’s been a bad pain-related-to-chronic-illness week, and a bad pain-related-to-being-human week all around (it’s Wednesday!), which is a problem because being both in chronic widespread pain and being a human are issues I don’t want.

I think about how comfortable I am being crushed. Between sheets, beneath heavy books, pressed like a flower, squeezed to death. More weight. The thought of climbing into the cardboard bailer at my old job narrowly made more unappealing because of the squeal of machine, but in the moment a perfect solution out of a place where I wore a polyester uniform top and was yelled at about notebook prices by parents. Intrusive, but just imagining it helped for some reason.

In the sequence of where I am as dreamstate imagined by my dying brain I’m at the Children’s Museum. I don’t know which one, or even if it’s right, but downstairs is one of those enormous swinging marker holder and you guide it over your paper like a giant spirograph. Upstairs is this strange hospital-pretend drs. office, except with some real props. This is eternal. Even if it is not real I smell the place, the plastic of a repurposed dentist chair, old x-rays put up on a lightbox to show fractures. My ribs cracking under the bailer or brain leaking out of my nose as I am stuck behind someone moving slowly. This is the kidney-shaped dish that we assume is what people must pee in as kids in the museum, but that I now know is for bloody gauze during in-office treatments.

When I come back from this weird memory trip, I’m writing on a whiteboard and it could be today or three years ago; I don’t think it matters much. Anxiety does too much and not enough. I am tired. My knees hurt more now and the kids I taught 3 years ago (one who wrote his name on a handout I still use) are taller than I am. That’s the difference that’s quantifiable. I haven’t written nearly anything in the past few weeks (months), and what I get is feeling nostalgic for a fake doctor’s office that might not have existed (I remember children’s drag in the same place, my own childhood supplanted by memories of movies we watched in daycare) and how calm I felt after thinking, what if I was one of the boxes being crushes, right now? How calm it still makes me.



Author: jillboger

Part time writer. Editor-in-Chief for the Bridge volume 13, former EIC for The Odyssey at BSU. My glasses protect my secret identity.

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