Skeletons in my Underwear Drawer
This morning my neighbor told me that her 2-year-old daughter named her “pet” (aka. stuffed) monkey after me.
At first, I was flattered. Until I thought about it.
Also, I want to show you something.
THIS is my underwear drawer.
But the drawer itself isn’t what’s important — it’s what’s inside the drawer that’s interesting.
What? You thought I was going to show you my underwear? Don’t worry — I removed all the dental floss thongs, crotchless panties, and battery-operated boyfriends before taking this photo.
What I didn’t remove is this manila envelope. This manila envelope has sat at the bottom of every underwear drawer I’ve owned — including the plastic set of drawers that was the sole piece of bedroom furniture in Justin’s and my first apartment — for the past 19 years.
The only thing that’s changed about this envelope in 19 years is the thickness of its contents and their respective weight on my psyche.
See, my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Maetzold, was big on certificates of achievement. Like, way big. And even though the computers, printers, and software in 1992 were beastly dinosaurs by today’s standards, Mrs. Maetzold always took the time to design and print certificates that were unique for each subject or area of achievement. The special colors, boarders, pictures and puns were exactly the type of encouragement our tender, 4th grade hearts needed to stay motivated.
Certificate for excellence in Math? I think that’s the last time I ever saw one of those awards.
So she would give us these certificates whenever we did well on something — a test, an assignment, or just did something that impressed her that day. And she gave us these manila envelopes, told us to put them in the bottom of our underwear drawers for safe-keeping, and instructed us to use it to store the certificates we earn throughout the year. Then, if we’re really diligent, we could just keep on savin’ right up through high school and beyond.
Which is exactly what I did.
Hey, don’t judge me — I don’t have much in the way of material things from my past. And I know it sounds strange, but whenever I’m feeling a little blue, the contents of the folder in my underwear drawer are sure to bring a smile to my face.
100% on the Social test? See? I told you I wasn’t always awkward. Wait — maybe she meant social studies.
My, how I’ve changed.
This one’s the kicker:
Ah, Mrs. Maetzold. I’m sorry I didn’t manage to live up to your expectations. At least not by the age of 28. But I have to say… don’t you think maybe they were a little high? I mean, “Most likely to succeed” is a lot of pressure to put on a 10-year-old. Maybe it should’ve been something more specific like, “Most likely to graduate high school,” or, “Most likely to not go to prom,” or “Most likely to make it from here to the bathroom without tripping over her own feet.”
Except that last one wouldn’t have been true.
I do have 1 other thing besides certificates in my certificate folder. Something cryptic. Something that most definitely does not make me feel good every time I look at it.
What is this?
What is in this?
This envelope scares me for 2 reasons:
The more obvious is the fact that it is probably filled with wild expectations that my 10-year-old self had for my 40-year-old self — scary things like having a career or raising children.
The less obvious is the fact that up until today, I thought I wrote whatever’s inside this envelope back in 4th grade. I could’ve sworn it. I was positive Mrs. Maetzold had us write these letters to ourselves at the end of the school year and told us explicitly to keep them in our underwear drawers with our certificates, where we’d be sure to never lose them. But, as I was going through the pictures for this post, it became glaringly obvious that this envelope is from my high school.
At least 4 years later.
In another state!
Clearly, that is not the handwriting of a 4th grader. Maybe a 5th grader, but definitely not a 4th grader. But it is most definitely MY handwriting.
This can only mean 1 of 2 things: Either I put the original envelope inside this high school envelope for extra protection and can’t remember doing it; or, I actually wrote whatever is inside during high school, not 4th grade, can’t remember doing it, and I made the whole thing up about Mrs. Maetzold making us do it.
Either way, this can’t mean good things about my mental stability.
Anyway. There have been times when I’ve wanted to rip that sucker open so bad I could hardly stand it.
See? Still closed. Though, wouldn’t it be messed up if I did open it, and all that was inside was a piece of paper that said, “PSYCH!”
But now? Now I know I’m definitely not ready. Whether I wrote it in 4th grade or 9th, I know I’m not ready to live up to my own expectations.
And while I suppose that does reflect a certain level of maturity on my part (Way to go, Mrs. Maetzold — at least we got something right), it shows just how far I have to go to be happy with myself.
And, when I’m not, I’m glad there’s motivation to be found at the bottom of my underwear drawer.