The dresser I keep my clothes in has been with me as long as I can remember. I don’t recall even ever getting it. It’s a little rickety in the tracks sometimes but I know just how to hold those drawers when they need to be pared down for Goodwill so the overflow mixed with the bum mechanics due to age makes opening and closing wonky.
The lacquered, sturdy wood tells me it’s not Ikea but I guess I could be wrong. But for whatever reason, I think I had it as a kid, bopping from apartment to apartment, all through houses and various other living situations as an adult. Oh, and it is filled with teeth. So weird. When the tooth fairy used to come for my kids, the teeth were always deposited in my top sock drawer. But over the years I think the bottom boards in some of the drawers shift from time to time allowing tooth-sized gaps to sometimes let a few trays slip down into the workout clothes drawer, or even the two out of five shiny brown wooden ones reserved for t-shirts.
But on this final day of March, and this year’s slicing, what got me stopped in my tracks and made me need to finish with this musing was the stickers adorning the whole thing. Various bands and tattoo shops, a name tag from when I jumped from a plane, another name tag from one of my first PDs as a teacher (and I think it was that one), a name tag that I think she wrote my name on years ago and another from a beer fest we attended on a date, “I voted” stickers, Sub Pop, most of my sports teams. For the first time in all these years living with this one piece of furniture that’s been with me this whole nomadic life, I flashed back to my early childhood. I don’t know why it held so much fascination for me as a kid, but my dad had a dresser and I know it had stickers on it. Well, I only remember just one. It said “Cherry Bomb” on it. Maybe a John Cougar thing? I just remember him listening to Mellencamp (and tons of other music) and I know that was a line in a song. Or maybe it was just that at some point he liked the fire crackers. I’m not sure, but it had to be why, definitely subconsciously, I put whatever sticker was first, on my own dresser.
The top of the dresser is always cluttered. Cups, candles, a picture my brother gifted me that I took when I went that Thanksgiving to protest the pipeline on Native American grounds in North Dakota with a great Kerouac quote he put on it for me, multiple tubes of Burt’s Bees chapstick, keys, gum, and whatever else needs a home that doesn’t have one.
Decorative clutter. All of it. If someone sees it they’re in my bedroom which means they’re close so they know me. But I think if there’s still a mystery blank in that understanding of who I am, one look at this dresser probably fills it in. A testament to that in me which holds so much stock in the past and preserving the memoried history of what was. Holy colorful socks which have long been sort of a mismatched trademark and the rattling teeth dislodged from my childrens’ youth. Adhesive momentos of where I’ve been and how I identify myself through the types of entertainment I fill my life with. All wrapped up in an idea I got from my dad which became the foundation for so much of what I am, and topped off by a random assortment of whatever that doesn’t have a more proper place due to the limitations that come with always searching for home.
“Is it war if you fight it?
Is it love when you don’t?
There is more when you let go
Of the fear that you can’t
Darling, don’t you close your eyes
Keep listening – are you listening?”