What’s in corner of your closet?

Published 12:51 am Wednesday, May 7, 2014

There is something both scary and exciting about venturing into the belly of closets where no human has been in years. Well technically a human was there often, but much of what the closets contained was untouched.

Last Friday morning I accepted the challenge and cleaned out closets I use. (My husband would say he used one of them until forced out as my clothes multiplied with time).

In fact, this project began because my husband basically had no place left to hang anything. He didn’t complain, but I could tell it was wearing on him when he asked if I might decide which coats I was not wearing again and move them out of one closet so he could use it.

“I could hang my clothes in there if you move a few things out,” he said, sweetly.

“I will,” I said, “but not today.”

He kind of growled and let it pass. A couple of days later, I figured he’d been so nice about the whole thing that I’d surprise him by making him his own space. Now back to Friday morning.

I started early with the closet containing winter stuff. At least I thought it contained winter stuff. Turns out it held things I’d completely forgotten were in my house.

For example, I found my oldest daughter’s prom dress and another one she wore when she took part in the Junior Miss program the summer before her senior year in high school. That was more than 20 years ago — enough said.

I found a bath robe that belonged to my mother. The same daughter wore it home from her house once upon a time and it ended up way in the back of the closet. When I returned it to Mother on Saturday, I could tell she was thrilled even though she wasn’t sure it was really hers.

Remember big shoulder pads? Well I had a collection of jackets and shirts with shoulders that looked like they belonged on an NFL quarterback. Oh and the colors of the clothes was a step back to another time. Apparently at one point, I had a liking for burgundy and for plaids with brown and forest green – not the best choice for my coloring.

I was brutal in my culling process as the discard pile grew higher by the minute. By noon, I’d finished one closet and was deep into the other one. With every hour, I asked myself a big “WHY DO I STILL HAVE THIS” when I pulled out stuff I hadn’t worn in probably 10 years.

Finally, I finished and had 15 stacks of folded clothes, each stack about a foot high. There were also a few pairs of shoes and one or two books. (Books don’t leave my house easily ever).

By the time my husband got home, I had things back together, and he had his own closet. (Well, except for a couple of coats I couldn’t quite get in mine).

Needless to say, he is happy. Standing at his closet looking at his clothes hanging neatly, he said he felt like he belonged. I’m glad I did that for him and kind of embarrassed it took me so long, and that he felt like he had no place in his own house.

As I surveyed my neat, considerably less-packed closet, there was this sense of relief and lightness. It felt good to let go of things that no longer served me in my life. The best way to describe it is a feeling of freedom.

So, I’m thinking if it feels this freeing to let go of clothing I no longer need, want or can fit into, I should pay attention to the non-material stuff that clutters my life and perhaps do some mental cleaning out.

There is something both scary and exciting about that prospect. Hopefully, I won’t find too many surprises stuck way in the back. I’ll let you know how it goes.