Sometimes I imagined that if I dug deeply enough into the Muk of our kitchen sink I would finally find whatever I was supposed to, some sacred artifact that longed for me as much as I, it. Maybe Excalibur was stuck in the drain, the One Ring or Philosopher’s Stone, something to catalyze an alchemy I was longing to perform, but never bold enough to try. In reality, I would slump into the kitchen, glare into the sink and think, who the fuck threw whole chicken bones in here? It was like the sink existed in lieu of a trash can whenever the plastic save a lot bag on the patio door was full. The sink, perpetually clogged, became the global repository for all things bad. There was no garbage disposal, so I spent much of my time confuzzled around what combination of gluttony and sloth would drive an individual–or several since there were multiple plates–to dump their entire dish, food scraps and all, into a pile of lumpy green water, instead of disposing of the detritus properly.
As I sank my hands into the sink, baked beans squashed under my fingertips, macaroni noodles wriggled alive in the depths, animal cartilage slipped out of my grasp, knives got tangled in the mouths of forks, slicing my hands. The stuff in the water burned. Did they not see? Could they not tell that the sink could not absorb all of the trash indefinitely? That the sink had never existed for that purpose? That they took advantage of its openness, its willingness to accept all their trash and never say no.
With my hands cut, I grew even more certain that things grew inside that sink. Not just flesh eating bacteria either. I was always just a prick away from starring on “Monsters Inside Me.” I’d seen creatures. Like those little red worms you could see whipping around violently in stagnant water on the street, mosquito larvae or even crabs might be lurking at the bottom. Nematodes, all kinds of flatworms that live just beneath human skin, all of them were lying in wait, ready to slip into an open cut and multiply inside me, leeching off my internal organs and slithering up into my brain. I just wanted that damn sink to drain. But in order for that to happen, I had to plunge my hands into the deep unknown. And every time it made me feel sick.
Once the dishes were ostensibly clean and out of the way I could remove the goop: hair, cheese, laffy taffy, non identifiables. And it would slowly begin to drain. Spurred on by the progress and receding water I’d snatch more dirt from the drain with paper towels, wrap the hair around my fingers haphazardly, tossing it all in a bag, cherishing the victory in-progress. And then someone else would drop off a plate in the sink, the skeleton of a whole mini chicken clinging to the damn porcelain.
In this way, over a series of transformative years, the sink became my very own Colossus Titan, my Dark Souls boss fight, my Archer in the Holy Grail War in which I was barely a contender. The sink taught me that even if I did learn to swim one day, it’d be more like wading through the density of perpetually building Muk, so why even bother?