After decades of having plenty, and thinking I’d never run out, and probably even moving them from midwest to west coast and back again, there are only six twist ties in my kitchen drawer. Six twist ties will last awhile in our house, maybe even weeks. But what happens when there are no more? Where did they all come from in the first place? Boxes of trash bags past, but have you noticed that plastic trash bags are smarter these days–they all seem to tie themselves? It’s been awhile since I opened a box and found those flat armies of twist ties, little perforated demonstrators of solidarity, shoulder to shoulder like soccer players waiting for a free kick. (But also not like soccer players waiting for a free kick, that is: if the twist ties have delicate anatomy to protect, it is not evident in their posture.)
Counting those six twist ties in the kitchen drawer made me think about all the tiny things I take for granted, like elastic, glue, tape, thread. Buttons. Things that keep stuff together. Thinking about the dwindling twist ties also made me think of all stuff, piles and boxes and bins and closets and storage containers and generations of stuff that is passed down (at least in my family) and by its mere presence, is somehow important. Given the free time and the right ruthless mood, I can sort through my own bins of minutiae and get rid of things, but the jar of inherited buttons, pins, and brassiere clasps (might be useful someday, she thought) from my grandmother’s things is impervious to editing by me. I’m sure it has to do with my attaching sacred status to the things she touched and kept, as if by keeping these things, I will have tactile and magical understanding of the intangibles she found important.
For many years, I’ve been working against my also-inherited tendency to collect and pack rat. Now I have a really vivid reason to dejunk: I don’t want to leave my daughter with boxes and bins and junk to sort through after I pass. I’ll leave her with plenty fun stuff, surely, but I hope none of it will be a chore.
At least she won’t have to worry about the twist ties.