Living Out Loud: : Stuff

My History in a Drawer

Next month I'll be moving downtown and away from Clifton's Gaslight District. It's probably time for me to throw some stuff out.

The center drawer in the desk in my study is a complete mess; and one night last week while thinking about the move, I sat down with a trashcan to throw some things out. I was determined not to move stuff with me downtown that I no longer need.

I came across my divorce papers. I considered throwing them out; but if I ever want to get married again, won't I need them for some reason? I kept the papers in the drawer.

My old black and worn out Zippo lighter I found way in the back of the drawer. I thought I had lost it years ago. My good friend Greg got me a brand new Zippo for Christmas that I love, but I couldn't bear tossing out the old one.

It's still in the drawer.

I came across some old ArtSpike magazines. I considered throwing them away, but I wrote some short stories for them before they went out of business. I might need them for clippings to show other potential publishers I might want to write for sometime down the line. I decided to keep them.

After my mother died, when I went through her stuff, I came across an old book from first grade — my "I Learn to Write" book. The first page shows a drawing of a cat with the word spelled out beside it with blank lines for me to print the word. Next was "hat," "ball" and "coat," and I copied the words perfectly — kind of the start of my writing life. Why I didn't throw this out at my mother's place, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure why the book is still in my center drawer.

I found several birthday cards and Christmas cards from my friend Sara. I couldn't bring myself to throw them away.

Old business cards with my name on them from previous employers: Why hold on to them? I decided I should.

I found an old hotel room card key from the Edgewater from when I stayed there while visiting Seattle a few years ago. I loved the hotel, right there on the ocean; but what's the point in keeping that key? I don't know but I couldn't throw it away.

Double A batteries: Why do I keep going to the store and buying them when I have at least a dozen new ones buried in my desk?

I found three old wallets. I looked through each one to make sure I wasn't throwing anything valuable away. I didn't find anything important in any of them — no cash — but I didn't pitch the wallets. I have no idea why.

I came across a picture of an old girlfriend. A couple summers ago she had I were having drinks at Sitwell's and a friend came in and took our picture. She and I were really close back then, but in the winter she dumped me for somebody else. It really hurt my feelings, because I think I was falling in love with her. When I found the picture in the drawer, those feelings all came flooding back. I hope she's doing well. I couldn't throw the picture away.

I found the AIDS ribbon that I wore to my brother's funeral back in September 1994. It's silly to hold on to it, but I will.

I ended up not throwing much away — just some old bank statements, some dried up pens and some old lighters that no longer work. All the other stuff I kept.

My mission of throwing stuff away instead turned into a trip of going down memory lane somehow. Some of the memories were kind of fun, some kind of sad but it took me back to other times and places, and I sort of enjoyed it.

I'm considering it my history in a drawer. I'll be taking it downtown with me.

Larry Gross' book, Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Stories, is in bookstores now or can be ordered through

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