In a recent Instagram post, writer Evie Ebert mentioned that before she had children, she nevertheless impulsively purchased a baby dress that she then kept for years in her underwear drawer. (The picture was of her cute, now-real daughter wearing the dress.) A friend of mine recently mentioned that she’ll often dump the things in her purse that she doesn’t feel like “dealing with” into her underwear drawer at the end of the day, and then I came across a blog post in which a woman described cleaning out her underwear drawer as feeling like a particular form of therapy. Is the underwear drawer the inner sanctum of the inner sanctum? A room of one’s own within a room of one’s own?
My own underwear drawer is pretty uninteresting at the moment, although ever since reading Molly Young’s Strategist story, I keep a bar of soap in there to make everything smell nice. But I like this idea of the underwear drawer as something like a living diary of objects. A place for weirdness, secrets, darkness, hope. Trash.
To test this diary theory out, I asked around: Besides sex stuff and actual underwear, what are you keeping in the underwear drawer?
Passports and Tax Documents
“I kept my passport in my underwear drawer in college. I guess I figured nobody would look there if they were trying to steal my identity. In hindsight that logic seems flawed.” —Sarah S.
Drugs and Other Illicit Items
“Weed (sealed in a jar for the smell), which is an old habit from high school (when I was trying to hide it from my parents) that has evidently not died.” —Emma G.
“Our entire family’s stash of passports, all the red envelopes and cash from relatives given to my kids for Lunar New Year. And of course, I found an old vape pen in there this morning, too.” —Yng-Ru C.
“Weed. A birthday card from my husband from several years ago (but not others). Little plastic stitch markers for knitting, even though I don’t knit.” —Kate M.
Nondrug Edible Treats
“Fruit Roll-Ups (they get replenished).” —Sophie G.
“The Norwegian version of Kit Kats. My mother-in-law brings these once a year. I stash them away so my spouse can’t find or eat them. There are three packs in there currently.” —Amanda S.
“Secret cigarettes. Small toys and stickers I use to bribe my daughter to do stuff. Um … my daughter’s ‘leftover’ Halloween candy 😱.” —Maggie R.
“I keep a bar of fancy Marianella soap in there because they’re really, really fragrant and I can’t bring myself to use a sachet.” —J.M.
Baby Teeth and Other Baby Items
“I have all my kids’ baby teeth in there. There are about 15 of them. Just loose, on the right side. Not particularly because I am sentimental, but because I needed a place to put them in the Tooth Fairy years, and I never cleaned it out.” —Jason L.
Past Relationship Stuff
“Weirdest shit I keep in there are love letters from my ex-boyfriends … never getting rid of those suckers.” —Hannah N.
“In 2006 I dated a guy who died (by his own hand). His parents are quite famous, so the death was well-reported in the media. I kept all the obituaries that were printed in newspapers, and they live in my underwear drawer. Oh, and there’s also a fluffy pink sleep mask that I don’t think I have ever worn in there, too.” —J.N.B.
“Currently in there are funeral memoriam cards, empty velvet jewelry boxes, fancy bobby pins, and a ring my mother gave me that she was gifted by an ex-boyfriend of hers.” —Melaine F.
Current Relationship Stuff
“Polaroids that my husband and I have taken. Not nudes, just little reminders of moments we’ve had together. I keep bars of soap, too (my mom insisted on this when we were younger). I also keep crumpled up old airplane boarding passes from the time my husband and I did long-distance for many years before I moved to Chicago, and little letters we have exchanged over the years.” —Lior P.
“A ticket to the Guggenheim from my first date with my wife.” —Chris B.
“My dog’s rabies tag, my deceased grandmother’s tortoise brooch, an eraser with my initials carved into it to use as a rubber stamp (gift), a list of songs I meant to make into a CD for Christmas 2015 for my then-boyfriend (now husband), and a heavy flask glued shut by its own contents three to five years ago.” —Kat T.
Jewelry and Other Personal Items
“Jewelry, satin scarves (for my hair), unused electronics (including a pair of Beats headphones I’ve been meaning to return), passport, cash.” —Brittney M.
“Costume jewelry and all those ‘statement necklaces’ I don’t wear anymore. Also the box my engagement ring came in.” —Kate M.
“My journals.” —Caroline M.
“A childhood stuffed animal of the Snowman.” —Christine P.
“I keep my childhood stuffed animal, a raggedy orange rabbit named Hippity, in my underwear drawer to keep him safe from my dog and cat.” —Kristen M.
“When I went to university, my mum handwrote me a sort of guide to life in one of those teeny-tiny Edward Monkton notebooks, and until very recently it lived in my underwear drawer, through about eight house moves, because it felt like a safe place I guess?! Now it lives in my desk drawer.” —Lucy D.
“Passports, my kids’ original birth certificates and Social Security cards. A tangle of unidentified charger cords. A pile of checks that I have mobile-deposited but not destroyed. A roll of duct tape. An Icy Hot patch.” —Una L.