At the beginning of July, especially on weekends, there is a traffic jam at the collection centers for objects for recycling. They are called Clean Point when – dirty or unpolluted – they have entered the category of useless, except for the hope that they will achieve a second life after a rehabilitation process. They are like containers of a fleeting memory that is reincarnated. The waste will become raw material returning to its origins.
Each person throws them out by themselves in respectful silence. The most appreciated objects – even by spontaneous ones that await at the entrance – are the electrical appliances. There are containers for clothes, for glass and even for oil to recycle. Appliances that meet each other at the bottom of the large open iron bucket: pillows used with some wooden box, perhaps a frying pan or a window frame.
The paper one is among the large containers. Yet. In the technological age less and less paper is used as a medium for writing. However, some of us have bulky tanks that take up too much space. Personal newspaper libraries that were never finished ordering, journalistic files, notes, notes, letters of which they were stamped, even poems and stories. They end up being like a flying diary of our lives, piecemeal a disjointed point.
It was exactly two summers ago that I undertook the rite of throwing those papers away at a Clean Point in Madrid without mercy or nostalgia. Instead of burning them in the bonfires of San Juan. It really loses a lot of charm, but it works too. In 2020, in a pandemic, we were not even for that.
When you select them from the set, emotions, ideas, memories of travels, projects, names of people who reappear or some of those who barely remember who they were with precision are filtered. Fragmented memory that returns. In sections of the trajectory, errors surface: from the “he calls me, he does not call me” to what disappeared later.
So I went out with my bags at the point of the morning. And I threw them in the container like the ashes of a dead person are scattered. Quirky and anodyne parts of the past, fused with handwritten words, with newspapers, even whole and empty books with leather covers that do not even remember how they got there. And it turned out to be a dense and liberating exercise. In some cases an end point. Cleansed.
There was a lot of pardoned paper that this year has already fallen into bags for the container. News, from deep funds that are never reached. The news today has become so fleeting, and it is so revealing in its background nonetheless.
“Gene therapy will cure cancer and AIDS”, 1996 and we are still there. “Internet will replace the mail and the telephone in 10 years. 1996 too. In El País.” They present a treatment that rejuvenates the skin in three months for six years. “With this precision. ABC 1993. Because this was already happening. And time went on his course. EFE told in 2008: “With a laser beam they achieve that female flies act like males.” Yale and Oxford Universities joined for the study. It was about modifying the behavior of females … in courtship That they put more interest. One of the researchers pointed out that “this discovery could not be extrapolated to the human being.” Clara excusatio non petita. And I should have kept it for that. Another study found in 2003 that fish feel pain. It was logical, they are living beings. Although well thought out, we know notable exceptions in the vermin of politics, justice, journalism, business or the dehumanized mobs of society. And since we are in that field, “The president’s illness.” It was somatotopagnosia adjudicated to José María Aznar. And he wrote it, in 1996 – I have found a year vein – Pedro J. Ramírez in El Mundo still, before Rajoy arrived with the discount.
“The Spanish Banking Association says that the real estate bubble was created with the PP”, 2012. “The number of people affected by the ERE and reduction of working hours increased by 48.6% in the first semester”. From 2012, after the Labor Reform of Fátima Báñez. How little memory they have preserved of this data. “The Financial Times demands a thorough, transparent and independent investigation” … of the papers of former treasurer Luis Bárcenas. In 2012. Not now.
“In Somalia only hunger and war smile,” Manuel Bustamante writes. “Clan chiefs hope the cloak of oblivion will once again blind Western powers, momentarily stunned by the magnitude of the tragedy.” This time it was due to the fall of the dictator Siad Barre after 21 years in power. It was 1991 and this doesn’t change either. But this report does remain in the archive.
It is a pity that there are not Clean Points to throw away or regenerate so many mistakes in coexistence, so much gratuitous tragedy that is charged in more violence. Clean points to throw the most pig and corrosive. A large refrigerated container for parched brains, given its accelerated overproduction, and one to refine the bad vine.
This time to the personal texts I have practiced a more solemn and more discreet farewell at the time. Instead of falling scattered to gather with other papers, they left in a recycled paper bag from a clothing chain and another from the Antonio Machado Bookstore. They were registered in the same circumstances, highlighting above all the coldness that distance prints in time. To minimize pain and magnify happiness if one is of that suit. To clearly separate the essential from the accessory. They will have another life. As a carton or back to its origins as a folio. Even the familiar DinA4.
Somewhere they will already be processing the drafts that contained written words. Of broken bridges, of land lost without a trace, of people who, without making noise, keep the world from falling apart. These too. To stop the Earth and feel a deep breath. What will they wrap, clean, or write on top of it? I’m leaving, I love you, the account of a greengrocer.
There are days when it is necessary to throw into the container the discomfort that useless garbage causes us. And write like that when the Earth seems to be sinking, although it is better to save it now on a pendrive. Much more discreet and impersonal in recycling.