I believe I am getting a glimpse into my mother's feelings when Dad decided to move us to Florida when I was a young teen. Tired of the winters, Dad just announced on day that he was putting the house up for sale and we were moving to Ft. Lauderdale. To this day, I have no idea why he determined that was the place we would be going - we had no home to go move to - and I don't know how my parents arranged for us to be in an apartment either. But I do remember the packing. And I remember I didn't like it. Here is a story I wrote about me helping Mom "sort" :)
SJ Belcher 1995
As I walked into my kitchen, the phone rang. The caller was my friend wanting to know what I was doing. I told her I was on my way to get something out of the junk drawer.
“Which drawer is that?” She asked. There was a slight pause before she burst into giggles. I could not help but laugh with her.
I am a notorious pack rat. After we finished our conversation, I got off the phone and determined to reform. I picked up a trash bag and headed for the drawer. It was so full that stuff dropped to the floor as I tried to open it. Immediately, I remembered the day when I cleaned my mother’s junk drawer.
I was fourteen the year my family decided to move south. Once Dad made the decision, he took action and placed a sign in front of our house. Mom and I thought nothing would happen for quite awhile, but the first weekend on the market, the house sold. We suddenly found ourselves with thirty days to clean out years of living.
On the day of memory, Mom had a list of in-town errands. She decided to leave me at home with chores. I found myself with garbage duty, and the job of cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen. Neither assignment was palatable. Hauling two big silver cans to the curb was not easy, and the junk drawer was crammed to the hilt.
I stomped off to the garage to get a big cardboard box to throw stuff in. When I tried to open the drawer, I could only get it open about half way. Included in the mess before me were trussing twine used at Thanksgiving, old game tickets from restaurants, clipped out recipes from the paper, and so on.
Hoping to make some sense of the conglomeration, I tried to create piles of related items on the counter. When I heard the sound of the garbage truck coming up our street, inspiration hit me. I pulled the box over to the drawer and dumped its entire contents. I spied the piles on the counter and reasoned anything could be replaced. With one swoop, it all went into the box.
I dragged the carton to the curb. Then I got the garbage cans and lugged them to the road. I was proud that I had gotten done before the truck reached our house. Finished with my tasks, I went inside and plopped myself in front of the television.
That is where Mom found me. She could not believe I was done. She gave me a suspicious look and left to check my work. Responding to her summons, I discovered her staring at the void in the drawer. Her gaze raked the counters and then my face. She demanded to know where the drawer’s contents were located.
I think that is when I realized that my solution had problems. Mom demanded I get the cardboard box and do the task correctly. Her anger switched to shock, which mixed with tears, when I explained that the box had already been collected.
The rest of that day is blurry. I remember Mom made a phone call to Grandma for commiseration. When Dad got home, we had a “talk”. He tried to explain how accumulated objects could correspond to life. I did not understand what the fuss was about.
I bent down to gather the items that had fallen from my junk drawer. I picked up a plastic palm tree ice cube, a potato skewer, pinking shears, and a money clip. Those items represent my son’s fifteenth birthday, a dinner with the Anderson’s, a homemade diaper bag, and my father-in-law coming to live with us. I wiped away a tear, shut the drawer, and put away the trash bag. Call me lesson-challenged. I finally learned about treasure drawers.
Today: Well, now I have a whole house of treasure drawers. Drawers full of memories - things you saved because - well - you did. Things you mull over - "Do I keep it or not?" Thankfully, I am balanced by the fact that I do know where my true treasures are - may your day be a good one :)