Junk Drawer

This is an article I wrote in April 2007 as part of my final project in my Communications degree.

I am a packrat. I collect stuff – I cannot help it; anything with sentimental value must be saved! Growing up, the underside of my bed, an entire drawer, and every spare nook in my closet were crammed full of odds and ends. As I have been moving around the past couple of years, I’ve been a bit better, and only the drawer, dubiously dubbed the “junk drawer” by my mother, remains stuffed full of – well, a little of everything.

Ah, the junk drawer – a place for all of the unsortables and unfilables, home for odds and ends which really belong nowhere else. Throw in a good dose of random figurines and “collectables”, a dash of cards from birthdays and Christmases past, a smattering of poorly penned high school love notes, the odd crumpled receipt and movie ticket, and you have yourself a junk drawer – a veritable stew of memories.

Or, a huge pain in the neck to clean out and sort.

Nevertheless, this was my mission; as I was moving in a few days, it seemed like an opportune time to do a little sorting and *gulp* tossing.

My fingers dodged past a toy piano and a giant eraser shaped like Larry the Cucumber and closed around a small stack of folded papers that had gotten wedged in a corner. I opened the first one – a note that had been passed in class between my best friend and I in high school. I smiled as I read the messy handwriting swearing my friend to secrecy about my latest crush – life had been so simple then. I glanced at the trash bag, gaping and waiting, and tucked the notes back in the corner where they belonged.

As I dug again into the drawer, my fingers brushed against something plastic and flimsy. I pulled it out – a lid from a Tim Horton’s cup? I remembered instantly why I had saved it; it involved an inside joke between me and a boy I had dated a year ago. I guess I even sentimentalize garbage. Well, garbage or not, back in the drawer went the Tim Horton’s lid.

The unplanned trip down memory lane continued, past ribbons won in 4H, past a forgotten seashell collection, and past childishly woven friendship bracelets of colorful threads. I paused for a while at some old photos of summer camp chums, then continued on to a bag of jewelry that I had adorned myself with in junior high school. Would I wear any of it ever again? Probably not. But you never know, I told myself as the bag found its way back to its spot in the drawer.

It is amazing how small, insignificant items have the power they do to recall people and places from years past with which they are associated. As I encountered each item that was in my drawer, I was hit with memory after memory. Here in my junk drawer, it seemed, existed a small shrine, each piece of “junk” representing something much larger than itself. This odd collection of odds and ends, was, in a way, a rag-tag history, chronicle, of my life.

The trash bag still unfed, I carefully placed the odds and ends strewn across my bed back in, and pushed my junk drawer shut. I don’t believe I had actually really planned on throwing anything out that day. Unsortable or not, the junk drawer is where it all belonged.

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