I’d like to introduce you to my silverware drawer.
(I know. You’ve been waiting.)
It’s awfully big, as far as silverware drawers go, which suits us perfectly. At some point when we were settling in here – most likely during that awkward six week period between arriving in Seattle and the day our moving van actually showed up – I went crazy at Storables, purchasing dozens of clean, efficient-looking trays as insurance against the kind future organizational catastrophe one might measure on the Richter scale.
The thing is, it worked. On the left side, at least. The chopsticks slept next to the chopsticks, and the weird forks and spreaders stayed with the other weird forks and spreaders. The wine accessories behaved themselves, and now, even the baby spoons seem to have found their spot. On the left, I arranged the bins according to a legend that both my husband and the utensils themselves seem to understand.
The right side, though. It just failed me.
Before Thanksgiving, we had a set of 8 or maybe 12, I don’t quite remember. Regular settings, plus extra stuff, like grapefruit spoons, long milkshake spoons, and these little cocktail forks that are completely useless unless the cornichon jar is extremely tightly packed. But all the forks and spoons and knives and extras sat idly by, waiting patiently be called on, the way I imagine hardworking Amish schoolchildren waiting, in a very well-behaved classroom somewhere in Pennsylvania. They’re very plain, and they never seemed to mind sitting still.
Apparently, though, patience is not a virtue indigenous to all breeds of silverware. When the crowds hit, we added 12 more settings, remnants of a Thanksgiving past that are almost – but not quite – identical to the usual stuff. So now instead of two spoons sizes, we have four. Instead of three fork sizes, we have five. They’re oil and water, these two sets of silverware, just different enough to make me crazy. And based on the spice drawer that just broke off its little plastic tracks, overloading this thing could be bad news for someone’s toes.
It’s not just that the tray isn’t big enough – it’s more than that. When we’re sleeping, I’m convinced the new forks do that break dancing snapping-up move. (Remember in junior high, when there was the kid who could lie on the ground, put his feet in the air, and snap up to standing like it was nothing?) The forks snap up off the curve under their tines, start a fight, push the old nerdy spoons out of the bin, jam the knives into the corners of the drawer so I can’t get it open, then lie back down quietly and pretend nothing happened. I’m actually avoiding reusing forks, just so I can whittle the mess down a bit each day. Dishwasher detention, I call it.
What I hate most about it, besides the fact that it I can’t seem to find 15 minutes to extradite the newcomers, is that the drawer is a pretty good approximation of my life right now: big, and full, and exciting, and completely overwhelming. I have all the right tools in all the right places, but can never seem to fit them into the right spaces. I wake up in the morning feeling like there was a battle inside my body overnight, and I have to step into my own brain to referee. Those recipes I have for you? Fluttering around my kitchen, like snow that refuses to accumulate enough to look beautiful.
And oh gosh, yes, this must all sound very familiar to you, if you’re . . . human.
So, for 2010, a goal: symbolic reorganization. I’ll empty the proverbial drawer out, and yes, I’ll put the little bins back in. (We all have boundaries.) I’ll put in family and health and friends and work and fun (in roughly that order), only I’ll do it a little at a time, making sure the drawer closes every time I add something. I’ll find things that really don’t need to be there, things I can do without, things I can stuff back in my brain’s basement, and then I’ll create some sort of digital legend, so each time something new comes into my life, I know just where to put it.
Then, if it’s really all that easy, I’ll declare myself “balanced,” write a best-selling self-help book on how to live well with bad cartoons on the cover, and call it a day.
Or, you know what? On second thought, maybe I’ll just leave all the silverware right where it is, all tangley and angry and poking out every which way. Because if you figure life out completely, what else is there to do?