We all have one. Mine is in the kitchen. Yours might be in your bedroom or maybe even in the bathroom. You know what I’m talking about. The junk drawer! That space which you promise to keep organized. You’re always going to be able to open and close it. And at any given moment in time, you’ll be able to rattle off an inventory of its contents.
All good intentions, of course. But not everything in life turns out as we had planned. Because somewhere along the way, with no consideration for your feelings, this drawer becomes a living, breathing organism pulling objects from all over the house inside its cocoon.
A menu from Joe’s Pizza Palace. It finds its way into the junk drawer alongside its siblings, those other take-out menus from various restaurants in the neighborhood.
A coupon for tampons. Into the drawer it goes.
A birthday card from the office. It’s sucked into the drawer.
Receipts, photos, nail polish, screwdrivers, shoelaces, Lego bricks, scissors, hair clips.
It’s like the quote on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your broken earring, give me your poor old glasses. Your masses of papers yearning for space, bring them to this drawer. Everything is welcome. And nothing ever leaves.
So, the other night I decided to get a handle on my junk drawer. I dumped everything out onto the living room floor, figuring this would be a task that I’d complete while watching TV.
Sitcoms came and went. The news. Late-night talk shows. And there I was still sorting through all that stuff, reliving my life over the past few years.
I’d forgotten to RSVP for a summer BBQ. I hadn’t planned on going to the party. But I now chastised myself for not responding.
Next, I came upon some negatives that needed developing. Negatives! How old were these? I hadn’t used that old 35mm camera for almost five years. Holding them to the light, I noticed that I didn’t have that wrinkle under my eye, the one that appeared the day my husband was rushed to the ER when his blood pressure was double the 100 degree heat wave we were having.
And there was a pretty wooden fan given to me in my pre-hot flash days. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t ever need this thing. Wrong. In fact, I used it while I sifted through the pile sitting in front of me.
A tape measure. We had planned on buying a new couch last year, but then the toilets overflowed and, well, a plumber was more important. We did end up with new ‘seats,’ but not the ones I had planned on.
Of course, I tossed out a few things. Pieces of paper with writing so small and faded that not even my reading glasses helped make sense of the words. Cereal coupons from the last century. Floppy discs for a computer that had long since been recycled.
But most of the items were things I wanted to keep. After all, that’s why they were there in the first place. So, I put them back in, neat and orderly.
In addition to the fact that the drawer now closed, this process had opened my eyes to some things that needed to be done.
I found a blank piece of paper and made a list. Call up old friends and see how life is treating them. Develop old photos and put in an album. See my gynecologist. Buy a new couch.
I would start on this list, well, tomorrow. Now I had to decide where to put this very important piece of paper so as not to lose it.
Well, I’m sure you know where this is going. What better place than this very drawer?
Because when you get right down to it, none of this stuff is junk. From now on I’m going to call it ‘My Life Drawer.’
And I’m going to keep it well organized.
— Janie Emaus
Janie Emaus writes a humor blog for The Powder Room and blogs at The Boomer Rants. She also blogs frequently on the Huffington Post, Better After 50, Generation Fabulous and Midlifebloggers. She was a 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year honoree for humor. She has published several books and is working on a collection of humorous essays. One essay appears in the newly published book, You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.
Marriage is give and take. But sometimes it’s hard to take without your girlfriends. As humorist Janie Emaus knows, they bring the tissue, a good bottle of vodka and a much-needed perspective to help through the rough times. Her essay, “Confucius Say: When Shit Hits Fan, Girlfriends Bring Pooper Scooper,” appears in the newly published anthology, You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.