The ubiquitous junk drawer

Does every house have a junk drawer? I remember growing up, there was a drawer in the kitchen that had all kinds of weird stuff in it. (I can’t remember entirely what was in there, but I do remember it was so full that it was hard to shut.) My grandparents’ house had one, too, and this was the place where my grandfather kept lollies, so I always knew to look there when I went for a visit.

My own house has several junk drawers, in different areas. There’s a kitchen drawer that holds random kitchen things, like orphan utensils, bag clips, chopsticks, skewers, a sushi mat, measuring spoons, spiky things that hold corn on the cob, sporks… And there’s a junk basket on the bench (out of the reach of the three-year-old) that has batteries, receipts, mysterious keys, loose change, paper clips, screws and nails of unknown origin, broken parts of things that may someday get fixed, if we can only remember what they go to… The list goes on.

In my bedroom, I’ve got a junk box with hair ties, buttons, orphaned earrings, a power cable to something (I’m not sure what), 70 billion pairs of earbuds all tangled up, sequins, beads from a broken necklace, and the finial from one of my curtain rods. If one of the kids is missing something, it’s undoubtedly in the junk pile in the garage, which is the repository for stray puzzle pieces, toy parts, homeless Lego pieces, doll clothing, fallen-off dump truck tyres, game tokens, and playing cards.

Occasionally I go fossicking through one of the junk drawers or baskets or boxes, thinking I’ll clean it out or throw everything away or finally find where everything goes and put it there. But I get distracted or overwhelmed. Where did all this stuff come from? How did it end up in the junk drawer? What if someday I find the thing that all these random screws of varying sizes belong to, and I’ve thrown the screws away? The stress gets to me and I retreat and try to ignore the junk drawer, which, let’s face it, is exactly what the junk drawer wants. It wants to be left alone with its random detritus.

I don’t have a junk drawer any more,” my mother announced to me just now, when I mentioned I’m writing a column about junk drawers. Mmm-hmm. I’m not saying a single solitary thing about the boot of her car.

Katherine Granich

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