After dismantling the counters, we had to take the trailer to the dump. Jacob’s been back and forth with tons of debris over the past two years and works a construction-adjacent job; he knows his way around the dump. I’ve been there a few times for hazardous waste and the occasional truckload. We were hauling too much for zones 1 and 2, where I’m used to going—the consumer vehicle dropsites—so the attendant directed our truck to zone 3.
Zone 3 isn’t next to Zone 2. Zone 3 is a mile farther down a road too broken for regular cars and too narrow for the utility vehicles riding on it. The Zone 3 road twists through grassy mounds taller than any native Florida landscape. I know these are the beautified filled land, but the illusion is well kept. We make it to the mound-in-progress, which is decidedly more colorful in an altogether unpleasant way. Jacob gets out to “lock the diff”—using the cool terminology out of respect for my encyclopedic grasp of car stuff—and we begin our ascent.
When mechanical forces are at odds with one another, you feel the tension between them not as an exact physical measurement but as a psychosomatic stress. The ubiquitous case is the screw you’ve driven somewhere into a limbo between not quite tight enough and stripped. You aren’t just feeling the screwdriver resist the twist of your hand; you also feel the tines of the bit against the screwhead and the threads winding into the substrate. There is a point of failure along this chain you are trying to avoid and odds are good you aren’t touching it, but you feel like something’s about to give. Another ubiquitous case that triggers this feeling is a car on an incline. The forces at play are:
1. A Ford F-250 Super Duty with decent torque and knobby tires.
2. A 6 ton trailer with a ton of kitchen in it.
3. A 15 degree incline (this is a guess, and I don’t live in a mountainous enough region to make a better one; it felt amply but not dangerously steep)
4. A surface of industrial waste compacted under the tires of other physics problems like this one.
I spent all 30 seconds or so it took from base to summit metaphysically inside the treads of the Ford’s tires, certain they would slip or, worse, start spinning. This did not happen. The grip felt supernatural. This feeling of supernature means, in all cases, that your understanding of the system is wrong on some dimension. Maybe garbage is a stickier terrain than I imagine. Maybe the ridges on the wheels are closer to spikes in this environment. I don’t know. I didn’t go back and check. The experience had a magic to it not worth dispelling so quickly.
We crested the summit and before us lay an acre of hell. Red hued piles of everything no one wants anymore, stories-tall bulldozers pushing and scraping this new land we had refined from raw materials, constructed, purchased, and discarded up here. We brought the trailer to a halt a few hundred feet toward the center of this misery. Smell hasn’t been worth mentioning before now; you all know what garbage smells like and everywhere around Zone 3 smells like a low-key version of that. Up here with the sun microwaving the offal, so surrounded, the stench had no shock value to it but was instead heavy. The actual air had gravity. I refused to breathe through my mouth, fearing I would drown in every disintegrated material known to mankind. I stress this everythingness. When I had to step out of the truck and lend a hand with the trailer, like the tires and screws before, my foot sunk into the entire history of modern civility molten beneath it. Knowing I could not fight this monster, my body wanted to flee and yet I could not do that either, not by my own power such was the vastness of this horizon of trash. Not without dumping my own chapter on top first. The feeling of hopelessness nearly overwhelmed me. I don’t expect to forget it for a long while.