Canned: A Memoir

He used to be normal. Like, really normal. I’m talking ground-beef-and-shredded-cheese-based-casseroles kind of normal. A guy like that is definitely going to find a place for me at some point. No doubt in my mind.

I used to think all of that.

But that was a long time ago. Years have passed. Tastes have changed. And frankly, I just don’t care anymore. Leave me here. Throw me away. What difference does it make? It’s all the same at this point. I’ve already been discarded.  It’s already over.

2010 was probably the last time I had hope. And it was fleeting.

He was moving, and in the lead up to that, I had no reason to think he’d bring me along. Why would he? It had been months since he last looked at me let along even considered me in a serious way. Of course I was going to get left behind. It’s what made sense.

And then that didn’t happen.

I made the move. WE made the move. Together. For those next thousand miles I was hopeful. This was a new start. I knew he still cared, and I knew I could still be good for him. In that moment, it felt like there was still time for us. It could work. And for the first time in a long time, I was happy.

And then black.

Noiseless, empty darkness. For a long time, that’s all there was. And it was much worse than anything that had come before it. Before, I was ignored, but at least I was part of a home. There was always the noise of lives being led, and even though I wasn’t a part of it, I was at least around that sound. I didn’t realize it at the time, but just being near that hum was worth a great deal. And suddenly I didn’t even have that.

Others were more hopeful. And some, like the couch and mattress, had a self-confidence about them that was just downright maddening. That setting, whatever that was, was just temporary for them. Somehow they just knew he’d be back. That self-assurance afforded them a patience I just couldn’t muster. And I hated them for it.

And they were right. He did come back. And just like before, we were all loaded into the truck and set off together for some new place.

But it wasn’t like the last time this happened, at least not for me. That sense of hopefulness was gone.  My time was up and I knew our window for a union had passed. As the days turned to weeks and then months in that that cramped, dark box, my expiration date, December 2011, came and went, and eventually he was going to notice.

But he didn’t. He cared that little. And it hurt. He picked me up, looked right at me, right through me, and set me on the shelf.

And there I sat for another two years.

And then we did it again. Another cardboard box. Another moving truck. Another pantry.

And you’d think it couldn’t get lonelier, but somehow it did.

I wasn’t just expired. I was a relic in the making.

The change was gradual, but there was a steady, unmistakable progression to it.

Store brand items, like me, were the first to go. Name brands moved in and it wasn’t long before they too were replaced with fancier organic versions of the same product. In just a few short months, the pantry was completely gentrified. And when that happened, loneliness gave way to shame. Intense shame. I didn’t belong there and everyone knew it.

And I still don’t belong here. Yet here I sit. Idle in Joe’s pantry. Waiting for nothing.

That’s my story. There is no happy ending. In fact, there’s really no ending at all.  At this point, the best I can hope for is that my story will be heard and it will somehow make a difference.

Please, go home tonight and check your cupboards. Search for those items that once seemed like a good idea but somehow got pushed to the back of the shelf. Make a soup. Or donate us to a family in need. Whatever you choose, just pledge to be better than Joe.