Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Oracle of Corian…

Junk is the stuff we throw away; stuff is the junk we keep. In my kitchen, balanced between the toaster and the Tupperware; nestled next to the sink and the silverware; there’s a rarely-purged sad little drawer full of flotsam and jetsam. In it you’ll find a magnificently eclectic, oft- forgotten collection of mottled minutiae. It’s not just any minutiae; it’s the most valuable minutiae in the house – that’s why it has its very own, special little drawer. While at first blush it seems random, there is something unseen binding each item to the other; a thread that runs through each article connecting it all in a wonderfully sad, perfect little collection. A quick root reveals birthday candles, batteries, mystery screws, and displaced bits of metal and plastic – each of which I swear I recognize the longer I stare. It harbors the keys to long-forgotten locks and once-owned vehicles, locked locks without keys, and maybe even a needle or thread – but rarely both. Dig deeper and you’ll find an earring and a matchbook – both without matches, erasers without pencils, and pencils without lead; but the most poignant presence in that drawer is the memories – and that defines the collection’s value both as the sum of its parts and its part as a whole.

We are all photographers. Our experiences are our frames; and our memories are the snapshots we save in them. Like old Polaroid’s, they are yellowed, blurred and taken out of context from some distant moment passed. As my fingers push and pull at the agglomeration in the drawer more obscurities reveal themselves. The collection captures me as I sift through its members; the meter and rhyme revealed with every sweep. It speaks to me in verse as I spy every item: a pipe cleaner, a poker chip, some pushpins, and a pebble; a bread tie, a bubble wand, and some bolts without nuts. With the legato of poetry it soothes – as my mind swims in the flood of memories it affords: an old photo, an old coupon, a new penny, and some gum; a lipstick, a glue stick, some Chap Stick, some Tums… I am confronted by its beauty – comforted by its song – taken by its reveal.

In the corners and creases there live glimpses of past holidays: a sequin from a Halloween costume long gone – pinned under a bobby pin from some wedding or prom. Stuck to the back wall is a dried up Peep – my father’s favorite for each Easter he lived; and a lead ornament hook with a Christmas tree bulb that I won’t find come December. There’s a plastic spoon and a plastic favor from a birthday in ’04, and a napkin from “their” wedding – now living happily divorced; a dried weed for Mommy that was meant to be flowers, and a portrait titled “Daddy” – that was drawn in an hour. These are some of my items, and some of my memories they carry…

My drawer is a living masterwork and encrypted in it are secrets to my memories. It is a Rosetta stone that decodes my past and offers a glimpse into my experiences; a cosmic magnet slowly gathering spicks and specks of my life, my experience, into its collection. But if this collection, this scattered representation of my life, can be read it can be read only by me. If art; pastiche. If feast; a cornucopia. If color; a prism. If anything; a mirror. Each who gazes into it sees what matters to them – as it matters to them. It is special in that way; that it is unique to every beholder and carefully considers its audience before it reveals any message – any secrets.

In your kitchen, tousled somewhere below the toaster and the Tupperware; nestled near the sink and the silverware; there is an unorthodox record of who you are and what you’ve become. Go draw it open, and like an oracle throwing bones, slowly caress its contents upon your countertop and listen to what it reveals. Don’t call it junk – don’t call it anything – let it call to you. Accept the memories it holds and you will no longer question the mystery behind its customary and almost-universal presence in your kitchen.


  1. Scoop,
    Great Post! I will never look at a junk drawer the same again. This is one of your best if not your best post ever. Keep it up! I can't wait to see where your mind can take me next.
    Sweet Dreams,

  2. I don't have that drawer...but I have an old suitacse that was my Dads when he was in the navy as a young man (he's 82 now) which I call my memory box.

    Every time I find stuff elsewhere in the house that I want to keep it goes in that case. And every time I add to it I have to look at all the other stuff that's in there.

  3. @Knight - Thanks for the read. Hope you like the next one!

    @cowgirl - Thanks for reading! How awesome you are... you've taken it a step further - not only do your items carry sentimental value; but the vessel they're in is an heirloom as well! Nice... I like it!