Lately we’ve been making a lot of trips to the city’s dump sites. It’s not by desire by any means. Instead, by obligation. Por obligación… y más o menos a la fuerza también, I would say. But the thing is we’ve had a lot of junk to trash, and well, in all honesty, neither one of us has been able to keep up with which day of the month is big trash day. Here, they only do it once a month. It might be different in your neck of the woods. If it is, lucky you! Anyway, rather than looking up the right day of the month, which would probably be the logical thing to do, we instead, pack up the back of my beat up old pick up truck with as much junk as we can carry, to haul over to the trash dumping site near our house. It’s about five minutes away.
It’s a pretty big space and on the weekends you’d be hard pressed to find it without a line of other trucks – from mini pick ups to trucks with trailer hitches attached – already waiting to dump their trash as well. Mostly contractors, tree trimmers, people that are obviously doing remodels on their homes, are what you’ll usually find in line. And then there is us. Me, Edgar and Anjelica, scarfing down our tacos from Taconmadre, sharing an agua fresca, and fanning ourselves to at least give ourselves the illusion that we are getting a little cooler, while we wait in line.
Oh, did I forget to mention my truck doesn’t have air conditioning?
It doesn’t, by the way.
So, there we sit. Waiting. Sometimes five to 10 minutes. Sometimes 15 to 20, just depending on how many cars are in front of us. This past weekend, our wait was only about 10 minutes long. Although in the blistering Texas heat it felt more like an hour. I had just bitten off a piece of my fajita con queso gordita – this time the cheese was so hot and melted the only place for me to add my green salsa was on top of the gordita – when the guy from the dump site called us over. As Anjelica turned the corner to drive onto the appropriate parking space to reverse into – she’s much better at reversing in this space than I am – I swallowed the other half of my gordita so I could climb onto the bed of the truck and chunk out all of our trash into the huge metal crate that sits just below where we were told to park.
I did so and we drove off.
A couple of seconds later, I noticed Edgar was so hot he was falling asleep. We had so much stuff in the half seat behind us that he was sitting up front with us, in the middle – something we rarely ever allow him to do. It’s much safer for him in the back seat, we always reason. Not to mention, when he does go to sleep, he’s automatically shielded from the sun by our shadows and the seats between us. This time, he didn’t have that shield and he was twitching and turning trying to get away from the sun. Instinctively, I picked up my cap and put it on his head. My head is much bigger than his, so it pretty much covered all of his face. He was content, and quickly began to rest a little easier. That single action, took me back.
In an instant, I was once again in my father’s truck, hiding from the sun myself in his vaquero hat… probably about the same age that Edgar is now. I remembered the smell of his hat. It smelled like him. Like a mixture of heat and sweat. Like the top of my dad’s head. As weird as it might sound, it’s still a smell that to this day puts me at ease. I don’t know why, but it does.
I can’t say that it ever put me to sleep, though, but it did always soothe me… in a way only my father’s sombrero could. A few minutes later, Edgar sat up and he was in a much better mood.