It was after a single glass of Gruner that I decided to throw it all away. I opened the “everything drawer” in my kitchen. Everyone has an everything drawer, right? A drawer crammed with the innumerable yet unremarkable artifacts of life.
From a young age, or maybe after a long therapeutic stint, (the timeline is murky), I learned to look life in the eye. Confrontation, it turned out, could be invigorating. Freeing even. This was one such moment. I towered over the jumble of odds and ends that had inexplicably taken up residence in this drawer; things I thought I may need one day, things that had taken mastery over me, things I was scared to touch.
The lone AA battery, its charge status forever a mystery. The fragile, doll-sized sewing kit from some bargain basement store–I don’t sew, but it’s there just in case. A coin from an Indian sojourn a decade ago–a talisman for a return trip that may never come. A rubber cock ring–all promise and little payoff, but preserved nonetheless. Keys with forgotten purposes, still stashed away just in case they hold the answer to a future locked door. Bereft-of-bounce hair ties that remain as a last-ditch option for a bad hair day. A weathered Chapstick, survivor of the washing-machine, harboring hope of someday coming to the rescue of desperate lips. Stubby pencils gnawed down by past worries. Orphaned pens caps. The remnants of burnt birthday candles, wishes blown. A cluster of Lego’s that once pinched under my unexpecting feet–they stay, for they might complete an unfinished castle someday.
I grab things, my hand making generous swoops into their tiny cosmos, and consign them to their new home—a mint-scented Glad garbage bag beneath the kitchen sink. No sorting. No recycling. I grasp for control. The rest of my life I can’t control. The “everything life” can’t be dealt with so decisively.
My mounting parking tickets; the ceaseless rhythm of school drop-offs; looming dentist appointments; cancer; my brother’s depression; my unregistered Jeep that exists somewhere beyond the DMV’s recognition; my cat who’s always hungry; the lone survivor of my chicken coop (curse those raccoons!); the continuous piles of unfolded laundry; the never-ending grocery list; the unopened texts from an ex; my fiancé; my newborn; planning a wedding my father might not be alive for; my addiction to cigarettes; my overachieving attitude—these things are not so easily discarded.
They must be faced. But this drawer, this ludicrous, cantankerous drawer that can’t even close, I can control this. I can throw all of this away.
Until later on tonight when my four-year-old walks into the kitchen, tears in his eyes because his Narwhale night light has died. And I find myself elbow-deep in the trash bin, sifting for that AA battery. I find it, scrub the remnants of spaghetti from it, and bring the little whale back to life. My son returns to his bed, his world right again.
And there I am, alone in the kitchen, surrounded by the unshakable, unthrowawayable things. My heart heavy with the need for these things. I rescue the misfits from the garbage and refill the “everything drawer,” ready for the day I might need them.
Anaïs La Rocca is a writer, film director, and member of the Directors Guild. Her writing can be found in Shots Creative, Mother Egg Review, and The New York Times Tiny Love Column. Her film Good Bones, a collaboration with acclaimed poet Maggie Smith, won an International Motion Arts Award. She is the co-founder and editor of Litt Magazine.