I walked down to the Target center to run a few errands this morning – had to buy padded envelopes and overpriced chocolate bars, thought I might try sitting in a coffee shop and writing poetry like I used to do in college, was planning on meeting Doug after he got off work… But I got a little distracted.
I was in Target, looking at cute dresses and bras (which, really, are just around the corner from the padded envelopes section), and, as I always seem to do when the weather is nice, I had the urge to try on clothes. Then I remembered what it was like trying to find something to wear this morning: my “walk-in” closet has no space for me to walk; my drawers are full of wadded up t-shirts, some of which I hardly recognize; the official resting place of my jeans is on top of some throw pillows on the floor, because there is no space for such bulky clothing items anywhere else.
And so, as I stood there in the juniors’ section of Target, looking at this summer’s cotton dresses with longing, I told myself, Something has to change here.
I have a little extra money this month, I reasoned, and I owe it to myself to have some new clothes. But first (and that’s for real this time, not like the last three times I’ve gone clothes shopping and told myself I’d make room afterwards), I need to clear out some of this other stuff.
Here are my criteria for what must go:
- Anything I haven’t worn in over two years.
- Any article of clothing that, if the right occasion presented itself tomorrow, I still wouldn’t wear.
- Any shirts that bare my midrift, as I am no longer 14 and trying to look sexy.
- Anything that reminds me of my ex-husband: if he loved it, if he hated it, if he bought it for me, if I wore it on my honeymoon.*
- Any daily-use underwear and socks that are more than a year old.
- Anything irreparably torn, stained, or stretched out. (How has this not gone without saying?!)
I’ll consider this the practice run for the bigger, scarier, closet-cleaning that Carrie and I will be doing at my parents’ house sometime in the next few months. That girl moved out of my childhood bedroom last week, and it’s high time I decided what to do with my wedding dress, ring pillow, Irish marriage blessing candles, et al. (Oh, but I can’t do that alone. Hence, I’ve called in the reinforcements: Carrie, and vodka.) My small apartment closet should be easier, since the stuff in there already cleared a first-round sorting by making it out of my parents’ house closet when Doug and I moved to Seattle three years ago.
Standing in Target, I told myself that any new clothes – including bras, underwear, accessories, whatever – will be my reward for a job well done, and that I wouldn’t buy myself anything until my mission had been completed. And if you know how Target works, you know that means I better get on it soon or the dresses I was looking at will be lost and gone forever. (Ask Doug about the yellow gloves, or see below.)
So I told myself that the next time I have a day to myself – a day like this one, where Doug works and I loll around the apartment with no agenda – I would get to work on the closet monster. For now, I would get on with today: I bought the things I needed to buy, and ignored the poem I’d been mentally composing in favor of wandering through a few more stores while I waited for Doug. Then we took his bike to the bike shop, and he treated me to lunch.
And then the strict voice, the same one that wants to know why I still own torn and stretched-out clothing and/or two-year-old underwear in the first place, piped up: “What’s wrong with tonight?!” it asked. “Doug’s cleaning the kitchen, and what are you going to do – sit and read and play on facebook like a frickin’ primadonna?!”
So I guess I’m going into the closet tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.
*The tricky one here is lingerie from my bridal shower, much of which I never wore for my ex, and which I feel is too nice and too expensive to just give away. Would it be totally counter-productive to make this exception, so that I can have a larger collection of lingerie on hand for Doug’s benefit and to fuel my obsession with half-naked photos of myself? Or should I get rid of it so that I never have the thought, “This was meant for me to wear for my ex-husband”?
Ode to the Yellow Gloves
Two-thousand-nine’s winter style
included so many brightly-colored leather gloves.
I like things that are yellow:
the Charger bolt,
And I, unlike my mother
(although her eyes have the same
goldenrod irises as mine),
can wear this color –
and so I do.
The yellow gloves, the shade of mustard,
had thin bows tied at the backs of the hands,
making them unmistakeably feminine.
My hands used to be perfect –
“model hands,” friends told me:
long, thin fingers; long, painted nails.
Years and labor have aged them:
the fingers are cracked, the nails kept short.
They are well-used hands.
When I first saw the yellow gloves,
I couldn’t afford them.
And by the time I went back,
they were gone.