Junk drawer

Photo: Burcu Avsar

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Rule #4: You Are Allowed a Junk Drawer
Aimee Bender on the purpose—and strange beauty—of a little localized chaos.

The jagged piece of red taillight that I fished from the trunk of my first car before I sold it; the tiny burgundy wooden elephant that holds a thousand tinier paper elephants that I ordered from a toy catalog when I was 7; a bottle of facial spray from a friend that's still full; the gray rock, from an Encinitas beach, that my boyfriend gave me in college, and a few rocks from various other beaches whose significance I can't recall: My junk drawer holds uncategorizable items that only I can decipher, and even I am not sure I can decipher all of them anymore.

My grandmother had a secret drawer in her bedroom, and when we visited, she allowed us to fish in it with our eyes closed and pick a treasure for the day from among the pens, plastic animals and candy bars. One of my best finds was an empty smoky rose glass Estée Lauder moisturizer jar with a gold lid, bulby and beautiful. I held it close all day and later gave a small doll a bath in it. My junk drawer has the same aura of mystery, and though I don't fish in it, I do open it from time to time just to pick up the items inside and look at them. I like that they are both meaningful and meaningless. Even though I have to cram envelopes and other useful things tightly in the drawers that surround it, I keep my junk drawer protected.

I believe in a space that has no designated purpose and yet some reason for existence. I believe that every clean house needs a chaotic spot. I believe in places where we can go to marvel at the unknowable intricacies of our minds.
Aimee Bender