Thursday, September 28, 2017

Cleaning Out the Closet

It fit me like a glove and I felt good wearing it.

Made of red cotton eyelet fabric – lacy and feminine but not too revealing, if you know what I mean – and with a hint of ruffle on the cuff of the sleeves, my favourite blouse was girly, but not too girly. Sure it needed ironing after being washed, but the cotton was sturdy so I didn’t have to worry about any snags.

But after a few years – it lasted THAT long – my favourite blouse had finally had enough. The unrepairable wear-and-tear practically screamed at me that the time had come; it had worn-out its’ welcome and the time had come to hang it up for good.

But good-byes aren’t my thing and I have a hard time letting go – of anything.

It was my favourite blouse and I knew I’d never find another like it. I wonder if in some weird neurotic recess of my brain was hope that if I just hung it up in my closet and left it alone that it would repair itself. I mean, why else would I hang on to something that couldn’t be fixed, right?

So it sat there in my closet, its finery longingly gazed at every so often, holding court among all the dispensable clothes I could so fickly let go of at the drop of a hat.

Fast forward four years – yes, that’s how long it had been – and we were yet again at that time where summer changes to fall seemingly overnight. Running around downtown for work wearing light and airy little skirts with my little white KEDS runners and my legs bare just wouldn’t do any more. It was time to pack away summer to the far reaches of the closet and switch over to fall and winter attire.
And as I rearranged, sorted, and put too big/small/outdated clothes in a bag for charity, my favourite red blouse silently hung waiting for me to make a move. With hope and nostalgia coursing through my veins I tried it on – it still fit! – and then I analysed the fabric for any remote chance of repair.

Finality and truth washed over me and my shoulders slumped in acknowledgement: The time had come, to say good-bye. It was time to let go.
So with a heavy heart I by-passed the charity bag and my favourite blouse went right into the garbage. It would be insulting to send it to charity – the blouse was that far gone – and if I was sewing like I did many years ago, I’d be savvy and re-purpose any salvageable fabric. But it was done. There was no going back. I had to move forward and let go and let the past be the past and let the memories of wearing that favourite blouse carry me forward and know I had definitely gotten my money’s worth out of it and, and, and…..

But as I finished sorting my fall and winter clothes I realised one thing: I had been managing just fine all these years without my favourite blouse in regular circulation. Maybe I didn’t really miss it, but I just missed the idea of it. Other garments had come and gone and still made me feel good wearing them, and I was never forced to go to work naked (just like those ‘showing up at work naked’ nightmares we sometimes get?)

My life didn’t change without that red blouse (and I never showed up at work naked, either!). My sense of self-worth and being didn’t come to a grinding halt without it, either. Leaving it in the closet taking up space didn’t change anything. I had other clothes I could wear and there were bigger, far more important issues that needed my attention.

And despite hanging on to it for all those years, I had been forced move on and forced to accept change – without even thinking about it. Just as September usually speeds along and the mornings get cooler and cooler, we naturally throw on a little sweater or jacket and go on about our days. We go with the flow, are no worse for wear in assimilating into fall, and still chug along despite summer being over. Summer lovers despise us autumn lovers – those of us who rejoice at the first sign of cooler days and crunchy leaves on the ground. But seasons come and go whether we like it or not, and we have no choice BUT to get used to the new season at hand. Things – objects – can’t stay forever, and in the end they are only that – THINGS. Adjusting and making accommodations is all part of life.

The bag of clothes went off to charity and my favorite blouse went in the garbage - as well as a few thread-bare socks and unmentionables that had been taking up space in my drawers. A lot had happened over those four years of the blouse taking up space in my closet, and when I look back now, I realize I really truly didn’t miss it – and it really didn’t matter in the great scheme of things.

My thinner closet and drawers made me feel a whole lot lighter, freer, and not as bogged down. Stuff is just STUFF, and that red blouse was a reminder to just let stuff go and keep that closet of in our minds as clutter-free as we can. I held on to the blouse hoping it would miraculously change, but of course it never did – things often doing miraculously change on their own, and we still get on with our lives inspite of it all. I DID carry on without that blouse and it’s only purpose all these years was to take up space in my closet that could have been use for other important things (I also store books in my closet!).

So while everyone mumbled and moaned about the end of summer and the inevitable arrival of fall and all the ‘bad’ weather it brings (which is a matter of opinion – I LOVE the rain), I skipped through the fall leaves at the promise of a new start – a fresh start. And what made the skip that much skippier was the realization that letting go was the best thing I could have done for myself, and I ended up with a cleaner closet, at that!

1 comment:

  1. Well said - our stuff just bogs us down. Just wish I could throw more than one or two things at a time. Reading this has me soldiering back into the fray!