The Junk Drawer: batteries and tape

When the apocalypse comes, Robin and I will be well provided for in two areas: batteries and tape. 

Robin buys batteries in bulk at every opportunity, “because you just never know,” he says, “I take them with me to every gig!” And, in fact he does; I have been the beneficiary of his gig batteries more than once. 

I, on the other hand, like to buy tape: tape to wrap presents, tape to mail books and cds, and my favorite, painter’s tape.  I particularly love a pale green painter’s tape that I use to label everything from guitar and microphone cables in the basement to containers of soup in the freezer to storage bins in the garage.   
  
You do have to dig through the junk drawer to find it of course, and that’s time consuming, but even if we’ve determined that the tape is on its way out, or the batteries are past their expiration date, we generally put them back into that junk drawer. 

Shortly after New Year’s, the drawer wouldn’t close and I decided to clean it out.  I thought I could do it quickly and with no consequences, but almost from the start I was in tears. 

Dense as a layer cake, and as generously frosted with batteries and tape, the junk drawer was full.  A partial list:  half-melted birthday candles.  Safety scissors.  Glitter glue.  Power cords from decommissioned computers and cell phones.  Undeveloped rolls of film (from our wedding?)  Plastic sporks. Binder clips.  And at least 10 years’ worth of dust. 
  
Everything had seemed so vital when I put it in the drawer. 
  
I started thinking, where do we stash our hopes and dreams when we need to make room for something new? Is that what these aches and pains in our bodies are? Is it part of what makes some deeply cherished relationships stop growing - ? Is that what makes it take so long to process new information, having to sift through what we’ve tucked away first? 
  
When it comes to the junk drawer, sometimes you want to throw it away without looking at any of it. Sometimes you want to summon all your willpower and sort it out.  Or, you may just want to ignore it.  I have done it all.  
  
Sorting and sifting through the stuff Robin and our now-adult kids and I had stashed, memories, hopes, and dreams came flooding back.  
  
And slowly it dawned to me: a junk drawer is a chalice.  
  
Our junk drawers get full because of our hopes for a better, more fulfilling life.  That’s also why you’d want to empty it out, so you have space for more of what would be truly useful. 
  
Sitting there, cross-legged on the floor in front of the open junk drawer, it was as if a sacred space between the past and the future opened.  I was choosing which physical objects to release, reintegrate, or ignore, and along with them, the hopes and dreams I had tucked in there at the same time. 
  
I did get misty-eyed.  I had to take breaks. It would have been easier to stop.  I didn’t push myself.  I just kept going, and you know what, I did feel better. 
  
Here in the second week of January, 2022, maybe this is the year to make peace with the junk drawer.  
  
Maybe this year we say it’s OK that the junk drawer is what it is.  
  
Maybe this year, I’ll finally need those screws I so carefully placed into a Ziplock bag and forgot about until just now. I’ll pull out the junk drawer.  I’ll sit there.  Maybe I’ll think about what was, or marvel at what is.   
  
Maybe, whether I need something or not, the next time I feel aches and pains of heart, mind or body, I’m may just go open my junk drawer, and let whatever needs to come out, out.

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