I drove home from college one weekend and returned with a couple of plastic bags. The bags were blue and they contained some groceries that I had bought. I stocked the refrigerator with milk and carrots and fruit juice. I put a bottle of bleach in the closet next to my laundry basket. I ate a few pre-packaged cookies and set the package on top of the refrigerator. I dropped the empty bags onto the floor and left them there. My roommate never said anything. He was busy playing a computer game, shooting aliens in their heads with a laser beam rifle. I drove home the next weekend and the weekend after next and every weekend after that. I always took a trip to the local supermarket and always brought my purchases with me back to the dorm. I never stored the bags anywhere, and I never reused or recycled them after unloading my groceries. They always went to the floor.
My roommate’s family lived on the opposite end of the United States, so he rarely ever drove home. He only left on holiday breaks, never on weekends. After Thanksgiving or Christmas, he would return with his own plastic bags to toss aside carelessly, but they were usually white, not blue. As the school year continued, the weekends and holidays began to pile up. We became more and more surrounded until neither of us could walk without a cacophony of rustling and swishing beneath our feet. The noise was deafening; it drowned out the sounds of my roommate’s intergalactic conquests, even with a pair of buds fit tightly into his earholes.
Eventually, the bags were everywhere in our room. The floor was a carpet of them. “We need to stop kidding ourselves,” I told my roommate. “It’s time to get rid of these bags.” He wouldn’t listen to me. He was battling against the final boss. I looked at a dying bonsai tree on his desk, then grabbed the tree and threw it into a bag. “What are we going to do with all of these?” I said. I wanted an answer, but my roommate gave me none. The bags needed to fulfill a purpose. I refused to let them go to waste any longer. I picked another bag up off the floor and put my alarm clock in it. I put my roommate’s alarm clock in a bag. I put the textbooks for his history class in a bag. I put all of my shirts in a bag. I put my laptop computer in a bag. I thought about putting my roommate’s desktop computer in a bag, but I didn’t want to disrupt his progress in the game, and the computer was too large to fit in one bag anyway. It took me hours to pack everything away. By the end of the night, we had no more possessions, but there were also no more empty bags on the floor. They had all been filled and taken to the dumpster across the street. Feeling triumphant, I lied on the rough metal springs of my bedframe and thought about what I would eat for lunch tomorrow while my roommate stood in front of his computer, firing a gigantic missile at a tiny green planet in the distance.