Inside the Junk Drawer

In the right corner of my room, stands a rose-white made to look vintage pine desk. To the left, is the ceiling to floor French Doors, which take up three-quarters of the north facing wall.   Adjacent to the glass is a pine bureau that houses—and conveniently hides—the electronic gadgets.  Vintage lace found at an estate sale in London hangs with purpose over the double-doors. The lace secures the secrets within the room and offers only shadowy images of the true activity to the outside world.  It leaves room for the passerby’s imagination to complete the sentence. Lace sways gracefully in the moonlit wind and dances energetically in the crisp morning air.

A Writer's Desk

A custom shade of pink is painted on the four walls and ceiling. It’s not a popular modern day pink, like those pinks found in Victoria Secrets bras. It’s a vintage pink seen on the walls of a bedroom in a castle or guess house somewhere in England.  The wall to the left of the pine bureau—west facing—is home to the door of a walk-in closet, now as cluttered as the pine cabinet.  To the left of the closet door is a vintage gilded framed mirror.  It’s the type found hanging over fireplaces in drawing rooms of large estates, but here in my room it leans casually against the wall. Each morning I stand in front of the mirror taking physical inventory of my imperfections. Since me and my oddities are old friends now there is no self-loathing, only a nod acknowledging our history.

The room is an addition to the main house and where I spend all of my time when life’s demands—work and family—is not intruding.  It’s my writing, music, reading, dressing, tidying-my-thoughts, love letter composing, et al, room.   Until having this room, I didn’t appreciate Virginia’s words about having a room of one’s own.  If possible, I’d have a lock on the door, but as I am a Latina, I know this is not possible.

In Latin families, there is a tendency to live inside one another’s pockets.   I accept nothing is entirely mine and mine alone. My two offspring, the cats, and the offspring’s father, enter my domain without permission, disturb my tranquility, do a jig, tell me something I never wanted to know, and will stand at my side until I acknowledge their breath down my neck.

It’s a part of life, families and their annoyances.  Families are untidy, regardless of the effort. It’s near impossible to fold a family into exact halves, and right angles that stack in perfect piles. Rather, they are chaotic.  Take my desk drawer, for instance. It’s like my family, messy and disorganized, and as with my family, I close my eyes to the clutter when I open it. The drawer holds precious, not-sure-what-to-do-with-things. The desk drawer, like a family, is a holding place for I-might-need-one-day-and-can-never-throw-away, place.

Families hold on to things for this same reason. Think about traditions.  Some need to be thrown-out or updated, but rarely will a family make this decision to break with the past.  They will hold on to something for no reason other than we’ve always done it this way.  As I do with the contents of my desk drawer.  I open and close the desk drawer taking out, or putting in, but I avert my eyes to the letters tied with a ribbon.  I always push the pile to the back of the drawer but it manages to assert itself with the clutter and is there waiting for me when I open the drawer.

On the top of the pile of junk in the single desk drawer of my rose-white pine desk are the unopened letters from my father. The letters he wrote to me before he died.  I hold on to them as I hold on to the power cord of a phone I had three years ago.  I cannot throw out either. I might need them one day.  I doubt the cord will be of use since the IPhone replaced the Motorola Razor. As for the letters, I cannot say.  What will they tell me when I eventually open them? Until then, they continue to float to the front of the drawer reminding me of their presence and his last words I’ve not yet learned.

Letters from Father

One day, the sun’s rays will slip through the intricate design of the vintage lace curtains filling me with the courage to slip the letter opener between the folds of the sealed envelope.  One day I tell myself, but that day is not today.


Is there something you have been putting off, such as opening a letter or starting a bigger project?


prompt: describe your space

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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

27 thoughts on “Inside the Junk Drawer

  1. I need to clean out my junk drawer(s). I do have things I’ve saved that are actually stashed in my closet. I don’t really have a need for them but they are sentimental, mostly from when I was in high school and college. I haven’t yet brought myself to parting with them yet.

  2. Oh, you have one of those, too? An I-might-need-one-day-and-can-never-throw-away, place? And I thought I was the only one holding on to such stuff, letting it accumulate in my drawers, in baskets on the floor, in containers I’ve stashed under my bed, waiting for the day I’m going to need them again.
    But I do wonder, why you haven’t read your father’s letters? Then again, before my father died he left about 20 cassette tapes of him reading letters he and my mother wrote to each other when they first married and had to live apart. He died almost 20 years ago, and I’ve only started listening to them recently. Why do we wait, when life’s so short? Well, Brenda, I love this story. It is evocative of you and such a descriptive look into your room.

    • Monica – where would we be without the junk drawer. There needs to be a catch all place. You know whenever I write about these little things (saved, but not yet read letters for instance) I am lost in the writing, not the why of something, at least while I am writing. I know if I choose to share this type of write I will have to stand behind my words and come clean. In theory, anyway. The letters .. I don’t exactly what’s in them, only what he told me the wrote. I don’t read them because I like knowing he is still there waiting to speak to me. I read the other letters he wrote as I need a fix, but those last couple, not yet.

  3. From your beautiful descriptions, I can smell the scent in the room too. Maybe the smell is faintly of flowers or candles, of paper, of coffee. There is even the slightest hint of children, slightly sweaty, always sweet. Seize the day, Brenda! Read the letters.

    • I will, Linda. I know what’s written in them (he always called me before he sent one to tell). I haven’t read them for the simple reason of not wanting my eyes to leak. I do miss him and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.

  4. I need to do some major purging, not of drawers, but of closets. Of boxes stuffed with holiday decorations I am too busy to put up these days, craft projects I am unlikely to get to…

    But I *might,* I *might* [sigh]. That’s why we keep these things, when we give them up we are giving up the dream of being able to get to them, someday.

    Your bed/writing/sanctuary looks so pretty and inviting. Even with a junk drawer.

  5. Funny that you describe your space and mention Virginia Woolf, I don’t have a designated writing space, but tend to use the dining room table. Today I packed up the essentials and spent 4 productive hours in the library, I felt the need for distance from the things that normally surround me.

    I have a box of things that one day I will do something with, a birth notice which announces not a birth but a ‘chosen’ child, birth certificates and their replacement copies with the same date of birth but all names changed, letters, notes and research concerning the story behind that entry on the certificate that says Father: Details Unknown.

    • Claire – I write everywhere, but I confess to loving my room. I often runaway to the library on weekends, sometimes I have to otherwise I am bothered all day long by the cats and their human counterparts. I am intrigued by your box. I feel a story breathing from the inside

  6. You’ve integrated so many things into this topic of “mirror.” It made me think of so many different things…love your little hide away, like myself, I’m never really hidden away from my family…little ones come in and out and I must listen or patiently await for them to stop looking over my shoulder while I’m on the computer…My husband walks in and out, “What are you doin’?” I’m thinking, isn’t it obvious? lol

    Very nice, Brenda…and to answer your question, my large walk in closet, half belonging to me, needs to be purged…clothes that hang and never worn, endless amounts of art supplies that need organizing. I also need to hang some pictures. Like you, not today.

  7. Wow, I am completely blown away by this post for several reasons Brenda. First of all I cannot imagine having unopened letters in my drawer. I am such an impulsive person they would have been opened a long time ago, but well done on knowing that timing is so important.
    The other thing was kind of a revelation for me. I am a perfectionist and I like everything perfect in every area of life or I don’t play ball (sounds childish I realize.) What you said about your drawer being messy like families hit me like a two by four! Families ARE messy and mixed up, but oh how I battle with that. I want everything to be perfect – my perfect and in neat little rows. I instinctively kinow that each time I struggle with something about the kids or extended family the image of the messy drawer will come up and give me a certain amount of peace, for this is simply life. This does not mean I will not continue to pray for them or work with them, but means things are a whole lot more realistic. Why do you make me have happy tears Brenda? Thank you a thousand time, Elizabeth.

    • Elizabeth.. I read your comment a few hours ago but work was in between me and writing back, as such, I’ve had all day to think about your comment. First and foremost, thanks kindly for always taking time to stop by and share with me. I can’t find the words. Secondly, you are most welcome. I do think the individual rarely sees their own life as clearly as they see other things. I know this to be true. I rarely see myself as clearly as I see the lives of others. On the subject of family, I am certain they are like junk drawers, bits and pieces of this and that tucked away for heaven knows what. Rarely are the organized and orderly. This the nature of family. We cannot, not matter how hard we try, keep the tidy and organized. Hugs!

  8. I love your analogy of a junk drawer to family. I see order in my junk drawer; my husband sees a disorganized mess. It’s all relative.
    I am a do-er so I’m not likely to put of until tomorrow what can be done today. Oh – except maybe writing a book, of course. That’s something I keep putting off to numerous tomorrows!

    • Astra – You make me smile I see we have some differences, while I won’t wait on the writing, I’ll happily wait on other things. I am the neater of the two in our household. I couldn’t sit at his desk and have mild fit when he is sitting at mine.

  9. I always feel behind in everything I must do, and at the same time I feel like I have nothing to do. Its a contradiction, but I think it’s just that I can’t put a priority list.

    • Nikky 44 – I sometimes feel this way. For me it’s when I hit a wall and have no place to go and I have to build or create a new road. Of course, it’s never easy.

  10. I always feel behind in everything I must do, and at the same time I feel like I have nothing to do. Its a contradiction, but I think it’s just that I can’t put a priority list.I have many drawers that need to be emptied!

  11. Sweet Brenda, I chose to read your post over others because my free time is short and I was feeling frustrated with so much to do. In my heart, I knew you, Brenda, could put me back on track.

    Your room, I love it! Your subtle pink desk and antique lace curtains from London ignited lovely memories for me. In Paris, I had lace curtains on the french doors in my apartment overlooking the street below. They, too, would whisper in the breeze. I need to find some like those . . . like yours.

    Your unopened letters intrigued me the most. I want to know how long you’ve held them unopened, and how many are there? Were the two of you close or estranged? Are they keeping him with you longer because he still has something to say to you? I know about letters, I’ve included some in my book. Raw uncensored feelings to cherish forever. When will you be ready? lol

    • Nancy, I am so glad you found what you needed here .. often it’s just a word that we need (myself included) to keep us moving. My dad, I loved him far and wide, and no we were not estranged. I lost him to Cancer and honestly, I’ve never quite got over it. He battle that dreadful disease for five years and finally gave way. His letters are poems. When the removed the tumor the first time he woke up after the surgery and decided to be a poet and he was. He is the reason I decided to make the public declaration to be a writer. Every time I felt myself wanting to give up (writing a novel is hard if you don’t know what you are doing) I heard his voice. Now that I am finished with the novel and suffering the pains of finding an agent and have started the second book.. it’s going so much easier. Maybe those letters give me courage. Who knows. All I know for certain is I am not yet ready to read the letters.

  12. Brenda, I don’t have a junk drawer but rather a “catch-all” basket. The Signficant Other hates it but the Son and I possess and know there’s a system to our madness. Everything contained within the basket is used frequently and randomly. A paradox, I know, but therein lies our system: only we understand it. The SO doesn’t understand why we just can’t put things back in their place but how could we when the basket is so convenient. I’m glad your hanging on to your papi’s letters. The day will come when you need to hear his voice, read his thoughts, take in his advice and praise, and when it does, you’ll know it’s time to pull out your letter opener. :)

    • Bella, I suppose in us there there is a filing system of some sort, which as it turns out is rarely understood by all – such is the case of your SO. Since I know, at lest to some degree what’s within those pages I’m in no hurry. One day..

  13. You bring every sense A L I V E ))))


    Please open the letters….At least one…

    How can you hold back?

    —- read one sentence to begin with, sweet Brenda. And then another and another until you are filled up….

    Love Love Love. Xx

  14. Brenda, vintage is my style, too. :) I could totally picture you writing at that lovely pine desk, looking out the French windows/doors between writing spurts.
    Not opening your father’s letters is a choice I understand. There’s something I haven’t brought myself to read, too, because I haven’t figured out how to approach it, and how to face the ‘What now?’ after I’ve read it.

    Just a suggestion, dear: how about the next time you look in the mirror, you search for one thing you like instead of the imperfections? You’ll find something awesome there …


    • Sweet, Claudine.. Will do. I think I am still morning my Dad, so …….. sniff sniff, not yet ready to read the letters and they are sort of magical to me.

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