Sockpants and Super Heroes: Rocks
It’s been nearly two years since I moved into my new post-divorce living space and I still find myself shuffling unpacked boxes from one side of my house to the other. In fairness, the stack has gotten smaller, but there‘s still a set of boxes that prevents me from feeling officially unpacked and settled into my new home. I began referring to these boxes as my junk drawer collection. How many junk drawers does one person need? In my prime, I had one in almost every room of my house.
My kitchen junk drawer was full of random kitchen gadgets and doodads that I bought thinking I’d need these items when my inner Martha Stewart would make her debut. My bathroom junk drawer contained all the potential hair products and items I’d conceivably need if that hairstyle from the 80’s should ever make a strong comeback. I even had a kid junk drawer that held board games and toys that I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of because one day one of my kids MIGHT appreciate the classics and play with some of the stuff I’d been saving since the 90s.
And among these real-life necessities for all conceivable future possibilities was my “adult rock collection.” What’s a rock collection doing in a junk drawer? Allow me to explain. When I was a kid, I had a spectacular rock collection. It drove my mom nuts. I’d come home from my most recent adventure and forget to empty my pockets only to get yelled at when she’d find another rock in the bottom of her washing machine. She’d throw it outside and I’d wait until she wasn’t looking to retrieve my precious rock from the driveway. I spent years collecting rocks until one day, while I was at a friend’s house for the weekend, my mom decided to clean my room and threw my rocks outside where she deemed they belonged. I knew better than to smuggle them back into my room so I hid them in a place my sisters and I liked to call “the cave.” In my mom’s eyes, these rocks served no purpose other than to clutter up my room. But to me, these rocks represented memories I didn’t want to forget like: the rock I’d taken from the beach from our Fourth of July camping trip on Lake Pend Oreille; the swirly gray and white rock I found on a fly fishing trip with my dad; and the heart shaped rock I’d found on the day of my grandma’s funeral.
As an adult, I look at some of the items in my junk drawers as pieces of my “rock collection.” Many of these items held the same emotional significance of the rocks I once collected as a kid. What looks like a wrapped up package of bed hardware to the average person is actually the screws from my son Isaac’s bed. While I couldn’t justify keeping his bed after he died, I could justify keeping the hardware. The car seat clip and outlet covers are reminders of the days when my children were still small. The beaten up sensory body brush with the flattened plastic bristles reminds me of the countless hours of therapy I have done with my children to help them be the best they can be. The cracked Santa cookie cutter reminds me of the yearly tradition of making holiday cookies with my grandma for family and friends. The purple dog collar and tag reminds me of my loyal dog, Abigail, who died in 2006.
Feeling like it was time to finally sort my junk, I found the courage to rip the tape off of the first box. Like pulling off a Band-Aid, the pain was brief. Items that I thought I’d keep forever, I found I could finally part with. Other items I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to and were stored back in my junk drawer box to keep for a while longer. As I sorted through the boxes of my “rock collection,” the kids asked me the significance of some of the items. They genuinely enjoyed hearing my stories as much as I enjoyed talking about them. Feeling good about my accomplishment, I decided to give each of the kids a tackle box to store their mementoes. I explained that it’s a safe place to store items that have special meaning to them. But when the boxes get full, it’s time to sort through memories and share our stories so that we can make room for our new memories and countless more adventures of sockpants and super heroes.