Thursday, February 9, 2012

Comfort Junk

Does anyone else find this photo ironic? 
Look closely...amidst the packing tape, Altoids tins and last year's Valentine's decorations, the careful observer will spy with their little eye a book my husband bought a year or so ago. 
See it? 

It's called Throw Out FIFTY Things by Gail Blanke.  

See where it is? Under a pile of about fifty things we should have thrown out. Months ago.  There are small white bags that we used at my daughter's wedding... she was married in September 2009.  The book itself is perched on a paper plate...hopefully not a used one. There is a paper cup holding some solid yellow mass which I am sure was of some import to someone (my husband) at one time. Little plastic shot glasses, a package of graph-lined index cards, half a roll of raffia and a couple of bags of catnip--these are the things I still have in my possession. 
Most people have a junk drawer in their kitchen--I have a junk hutch. The visible shelves hold cookbooks, veggies and file folders with Important Papers in them. (Ha! There are medical records for our cat Chloe in one of those folders...may she rest in peace.) The only reason that the junk above is visible is because the fold-down desk top that usually remains in its upright position was opened to retrieve something Urgently Necessary. 

I wonder what it was. 

I know that I am not the only one who has piles of old mail, an unopened package of suction hooks and a bag of foam flower stickers laying around in some hidden, yet accessible place in their home.  What I wonder is why I can look at that pile, identify the object I needed, grab it and shut the door again without sweeping the whole mess into the wastebasket. No, that's not true--you know as well as I do why not: because I would have to "go through" it all to make sure I don't get rid of anything I might need at a later date. And it would take me about an hour to go through it all because I would no doubt come across a magazine article I hadn't read, a cute photo I would have to find another place for or some beautiful paper I could use to wrap something. Some day. 

How could I just toss all that important stuff?

Obviously I can't. And, God help me, this is a pattern that repeats itself throughout my life. Remember the dumpster? I do. I still have old towels, stacks of English essays from classes three years ago and --and I just found this today-- a potpourri crockpot for simmering spices during the holidays. Now why didn't that go into the dumpster? What could possibly have been my rationale for hanging on to that? "It's so festive! I can use it at Christmas!"

When I was divorced, I lost most of my possessions in the separation. Not only common items that should have been evenly shared, but many of my personal belongings, too. Like my high school year book. In my early single parent days, I had so little that I think I started hanging on to things for no other reason than, "just in case." I suppose those kinds of feelings can stick around for awhile. There are other situations that drive people to hang onto things, I suppose. It's funny how those feelings can stick with you and they're as hard to get rid of as a set of keys that don't open anything, birthday cards from three years ago, a lone checker and three balls of string kept in a handy drawer or box...just in case.


  1. Empty envelopes, wads of cotton from vitamin jars, bubble wrap, string, ribbons, wrapping paper, plastic bags, paper bags, piles of copies of screenplays, junk mail, nasty old harmonicas, clothes I never wear, VHS tapes?, empty cardboard boxes, cans of food I will never eat...

  2. And because of people like us, I have a steady income.....and you stole my next blog idea. Sort of. HA