Cleaning out my closet #1

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,
pineapples,
post-its,
sunflowers.

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.

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This entry was posted in divorce, past, present, Uncategorized, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Cleaning out my closet #1

  1. Adina says:

    I think you should keep the lingerie and just wear them a whole bunch of times for Doug and hopefully your memories of what you were supposed to wear them for will be erased by when you ACTUALLY wore them for Doug. You have to remember that I am the CHEAPEST person on the planet though and could never throw expensive stuff away that I never even wore. But I suppose if you really think that you can never erase those memories, maybe it’s just better to get rid of all that and start over.

  2. Steph says:

    From a divorced person …….. Trust me dump the lingerie it will always haunt you lol

  3. can i help clean and organize your closet? :DDD i am reallyyyyyy goood i swear!

  4. Erin says:

    Old underwears and socks, wash one more time then give to me. I put them a big bag, sew it up in a pretty cover, and donate to humane societies for puppy and kitty beds. Need a bartender for closet-cleaning-extraveganza?!

  5. Elphaba says:

    Keep the lingerie–if you end up having to try baby making for a while, then you’re going to need it and just go out and buy it anyways. Trust me.

    And yay for the closet clean out. I try to do this once a year and it feels great. I’ve also discovered the magic that is a good seamstress and how inexpensive it is to fix things you still love, but that might have a tear or missing button etc.

  6. Liana says:

    Save the lingerie. Use it and be grateful you didn’t waste in on your ex.

    Or burn it in a silly, vodka-infused ceremony.

    Whichever brings a bigger smile to your face.

  7. bodegabliss says:

    I did this a month or so ago and it felt so good. I even took before and after photos with the intent of posting them on my blog, but I was took embarrassed with the before. But now it sounds like I would’ve been in good company… 😉

    And seriously, I hate that about Target!

  8. Dawn says:

    Keep the lingerie! 🙂 You got some gorgeous stuff that day!

  9. Kira says:

    I did that… but if I had really followed all the rules I would own NOTHING, so I just got rid of the worst. Best of luck cleaning and sorting 🙂

  10. Josey says:

    I just thought of this, so I came back to the post to write. 🙂 A friend of mine has a rule – once a year she hangs up everything in her closet backwards on the hangers… and at the end of the year, anything that is still backwards (instead of being hung up the “right” way after she wore it, washed it, and rehung it) she obviously hasn’t touched in a year, so she gets rid of it. Kind of a neat idea!

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