The Everything Drawer

We gather some things in the years and decades of our lives, some memories, some real things, some scars, odd things and random things, very strongly random things, not common in their randomness, but core and solid and even wildly random in their randomness.  We are intentional in some of the gathering, like in the collecting of stamps or model cars, bottles of rare wine or books long out of print, sometimes we collect pets or friends, buttons, thimbles, pictures of places and people, coffee mugs from our various ports of call, postcards from our literal and figurative edges of the places of our sanity and wonder, figurines of Mother’s Days passed and cards from holidays and moments memorable and then.  Other things might be t-shirts or little pieces or chunks of lava rocks from ancient volcanic fields of prehistoric happenings whose events were recorded in mineral form and caused no ripples to form in the brains of conscious or sentient beings that might be rendered and recalled later as memories…or corsages from proms and weddings, hood ornaments or the twisted letterings or emblems from the storied cars of our childhood dreams and lies, bottle caps from the beers we drank, or notches on our belts that signify important things that might or might not matter as the years progress. 

And then there are the things that we collect on accident, things we place somewhere for safe keeping because they might be needed at some future and random moment, things that we might just as well toss into the garbage can, but don’t because they still hold some potential purpose, they are still able to be utilized for their intended or modified purpose, they might be just that little something that fits in the middle of our jerry-rigging of whatever it might be.  Some of the things might on other occasions have been tossed away without a second thought, but for some reason, on this particular occasion, they were put aside, put away, put in that drawer in our kitchen or laundry room or bedroom or bathroom where it was convenient to put them on that particular day.  After that day or event or moment, or that completion of an episode of something or the assembly of some toy or project when we found ourselves in possession of that one extra piece of something that we might need again, we consciously placed it in that drawer and somehow managed to never need it or want it again…for years, but over those years, and sometimes decades, every time we opened that drawer, there was that thing just laying there waiting to be used; unconsciously waiting, of course, unknowingly waiting, even more of course, because those things can’t think, they can’t possibly know of their own potential or the potential that we saw in them when we cast them there, intentionally, all those years ago.

Part of my family and I, some of us, not all of us, recently moved from one place to another, one home to another, one state and sometimey time-zone and environment to another, one place of ever-abode to another where chance and life are the same and different, where opportunity knocked with its familiar sound, where things might be different, even though we know things will be very much the same.  We packed our things and sorted our things and discarded some other things and gave still other things away to people who might want them or not.  We stacked and boxed our lives into corners and rooms and then into trucks and carted them in their thousands of pounds of assorted randomness and purposefulness to that new home far away, to that new place that is familiar and strange and welcoming and daunting and then unloaded all of them into the places where things are placed in this new place, in this new home and abode and dwelling and sanctuary and haven against all that might assail us.  We carried our material lives from that one place to this other place, room by room, box by box, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer.

I missed a first event and witnessed a following event of one of my sons taking one of those drawers in our particular kitchen and then looking into it and then at me, as he wondered silently and then with words as to what he should do with all of what he found inside of it.  He wondered what he should do with the randomness of the many things therein…do I throw it all out, pack it in a box, sort it out piece by piece, what do I do with this, do you still want this, do you need it, will you need it when we get there, what possessed you to hang on to this for all of these years, I remember seeing it when I was what, eleven or twelve…and you still have it.  I thought I might need it and it was still good and if I threw it out and needed it again later, I’d have to go buy one and they probably wouldn’t make them anymore, so there it is.  Why throw it out and have it sit in a landfill somewhere until it rots, perfectly good, but not accessible to anyone to use again if they might need it.  I’m not a hoarder, no, but it doesn’t make sense to throw it out.  Just keep it in the drawer.  Just pack it all into a box, who knows, we might need something from it sometime…sometime, something inside the box might just be the something we need for whatever something that might happen sometime.

So the contents of two of those Everything Drawers made the trek with our other things from that place in our used-to-be to the place in our here-and-now, to this new home, this new place, this new sanctuary that doesn’t yet feel like a sanctuary, these random walls that don’t yet hold the memories of our old house and walls, even though we brought the Everything Drawers with us with their randomness and memories…their randomness like memories, those odd things that used to be something important and needed and might become so again.  Or other things that we just put there for a minute so they wouldn’t get lost or separated, or needed to be within reach because we were going to use them again tomorrow…or in a tomorrow of our tomorrows.

It’s odd, but some of those random things really did mean something when they were placed there, they really were being saved in case they were needed again, in case they were wanted again, to be used for their particular or other purpose.  I found both teddy-bear barrettes with the pink bows that used to hold that silky-fine hair out of the dark brown eyes of my baby girl who is now 14…the end-caps to the axels of the motorized jeep that my nine year-old little one received for Christmas some five years ago…a mousetrap that I hoped would remain empty one evening when a fast kitty took care of the job for us…outlet covers to protect the various babies in our family’s lives, pushpins and safety-pins and bobby-pins and rubber-bands, and batteries for Christmas trains and bathroom scales and alarm-clocks, and calorie-counter books and skillet plugs and a tube of lubricant for the pool parts and aluminum coasters that only collected the condensation and let it drip onto your shirt as you took a drink of your iced and sweating glass of tea, and spare and bagged buttons that were attached to numerous new shirts for the various children and selves in our lives, and the twisted Allen-type-wrench thing that is used for freeing a jam in the garbage disposal, a misplaced funeral announcement for a dead relative or friend, and shoe strings and kite strings and spools of fishing wire and nylon string and sticks of wax for hot-wax crafts, and model glue, and the old collar and tags of an old and gone favorite pet, and extra Christmas light bulbs out of their strings, and an eighth-grade dance photo of one of the brothers and his date that we pass around and smile at and wonder where she is…. 

Those many things and random things in our Everything Drawers are like our memories, themselves.  We can liken them to the pieces of our pasts that we carry with us from one place to another and bring-out from their tucked-away places when we need them to fix those particular things that need fixing, to comfort us in their special and specific ways when their specific and special comfort is just what we need when we’re jerry-rigging our distressed or troubled hearts.  And in this particular instance, with this move from our past to our present, we brought those things with us from our former place to our current place because we just didn’t and don’t know how to or why we should throw them out of our lives…those many things from our Everything Drawers, the keepers of memories and the safe places for those things and some things that we might need again someday and then.

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2 responses

  1. jason

    I am reading this amazing post about 3 feet from a stuffed animal I have had since my early childhood. I completely relate to your writing here…miss you old friend

    December 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

    • Brother Jay…seems like it’s been forever. Thought about you a lot today on a long trip south from here. Thank you for stopping by and sharing. And yes, it’s incredible how we just can’t let go of some things, isn’t it? I miss you, too, Noble Sailor…there’s an empty spot in my life. Hope you’re doing well.

      December 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

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