REALITY CHECK: My junk drawer runneth over
It’s been over a year since I moved into my Lilliputian apartment in the back half of a beach house on Baldwin Lake. Not the “back half,” exactly; more like the back one-tenth, maybe one-sixteenth. OK, it’s a walk-in closet with plumbing.
I like it, though. It suits my needs.
It was raining cats and dogs the day I moved in. Horses and cows. It was raining horses and cows; really coming down.
Fortunately, everything I owned at the time fit comfortably into seven cardboard boxes that had originally held bananas. The apartment’s minuscule dimensions were welcome, since anything larger would have seemed cavernous due to my tragic lack of possessions.
Even the kitchen drawer I’d chosen to hold my junk — usually a congested repository for every “extra” thing in the house — looked lonely: One half-roll of Certs breath mints, more than a year old; six nuts and bolts that probably went to something but I could no longer remember what; four keys with a similar story; my most recent wedding ring.
That was it. Those few artifacts rattled around in that near empty drawer like a good idea in the head of a congressman.
That wasn’t the worst of it, though. Other kitchen drawers were completely empty! That’s right, I had so few possessions that, for the first time in my life, drawers were going unused.
The Dalai Lama has more useless junk than I did. Prisoners on death row were living the high life compared to me.
I didn’t mind. There was something comforting, cleansing even, in knowing I had so little to lose. For the first time in my life, I understood why someone would become a monk and opt for an ascetic, monastic life.
At that point, I might have, too, were it not for that whole celibacy thing. I’ve never been any good at that; not when I’ve had other options available.
At any rate, my junk drawer — like the rest of my apartment, my closets, my life — was mostly empty, but not in a bad way.
My days consisted of work at the office, work at home, and work on my Next Big Book (coming soon to a bookstore near you), interspersed with a great deal of bicycle riding and occasional cheap wine and expensive cheese parties with Sweet Annie in my back yard overlooking the lake.
It was a quiet, simple life; a good life.
What a difference a year makes. My junk drawer is now full of stuff. Much of it I do not need, but haven’t been able to bring myself to throw out. My apartment, also, is full of stuff; the overflow crowds my garage.
I don’t seem able to find time to visit the doctor or the dentist, both of whom I probably should see soon. Annie and I have a lot of time together, but not as much as I’d like; not nearly enough. My days are as full as my junk drawer.
I’m not complaining. I love my life, every precious, confounding moment of it. If I could start over from that first November day in 1955 and do it all again, I would.
But I do kind of miss my early days here in Greenville, when life was still an empty drawer, waiting to be filled.