There is only one lockable drawer in our house and I have the key. The other day I went to the drawer. I took out all the important papers that are kept safe under lock and key. I put them somewhere unsafe, unlocked and without a key. To would be thieves and passers by and probably the rest of humanity the drawer would now seem empty. It is not empty. I have filled it with something else.
Next week I will start my new job. It is an important job, a good job, a job with a big title and a nice salary. It is full time. I will put on my new suit. I will fluff my hair and shine my shoes. I will walk out the door a new and different person.
The other day I went to the drawer and I put ‘her’ in it. I stood in front of it and I spoke to it. I know people don’t talk to furniture generally although I occasionally swear at the couch or the rug when I have stubbed my toe but one does not generally chat with the décor. I did. I put her in the drawer, that other me.
I stood at the drawer and I told it all the other people I could be, the people I wanted to be, all the people that this job means I will never be or see or do. The things that money and pieces of paper that say how smart you are can never buy. I put the second child I will never have in there. I put the dream of being a writer. I took it carefully out of my mouth and tucked it up underneath next to my unborn second child.
I put the woman who just wants the time to pick up her only daughter after school into the drawer. I put the laughter from my daughter as she plays in the day time in there, it’s a noise I won’t hear- except on weekends. I wrapped it and tied it up and put it in the drawer. I put the mum who sits and watches her at gym in there, my pride at what she can do and my pride at how hard she tries. I put that in the drawer because I won’t see that now.
I put the Mummy who gets frustrated and sometimes bored in there. Frankly I am not sure I shall miss her so much. I put the woman who likes to sit on the deck in the late morning and have coffee in the drawer. I stood and let the words slip out of my mouth into the drawer. I wrapped each phrase, each hope and dream carefully and placed them side by side.
I stood there. I looked at them all parcelled up in a nice neat row that no one else can see or find or reach because the drawer looks empty. I think about the money and how I would give anything – but sometimes in life there is no anything, there are just things you have to do. Its about being a grown up. I will be the role model my daughter does not otherwise have and perhaps in a year I can buy a dog.
I will probably never own a dog, but I did not put that in the drawer. At least not yet.
I looked at the drawer. So very neatly empty to everyone but me. I closed it. I turned the key in the lock. I walked away. I have put ‘her’ in the drawer. Now I will be corporate, professional, serious, reserved and competent. I will have nice shoes and perfect hair and my suits will be demure and colourless. My handshake will be firm and my advice authoritative. I will be respected. I have put the other one, that other ‘her’, the bit that is ‘me-I have put ‘her’ in the drawer.
I walk past that drawer every day. I know that she is in there. Locked away. Safe. Patient. I should have thrown away the key. I should have walked down the road and launched it off the cliff. Instead I take the key with me everywhere. I have put her in the drawer, but I have not let her go.