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Closet Cleansing

Monday, September 17, 2007

I had a choice. I could slowly lose my mind while waiting for Bill to call saying his plane had gotten in to Lima, Peru. Or I could occupy my hands and mind with SOMETHING. I knew better than to write while in such a state. Nobody wants to read that stuff anyway.

So, after putting him on the plane in Columbus and doing just a little shopping (read: applying money directly to what was bothering me, which seems to work for some women), I came home and went to my closet (there are two walk-in’s) to try to get some hangers for the new duds I’d bought. New, bright-colored, slinky, dressy, fun clothes. Couldn’t find a single free hanger. Couldn’t have hung the clothes anyway; prying a temporary space for them to be smashed in the press would be a more appropriate term.

So I started throwing out things I didn’t want. The sack dresses, in shades of sage, sand and dung. The elastic-waist casual pants. The high-waist, pleated-front khakis. The dresses friends had given me because they couldn’t bear to leave them at the Salvation Army. Heavy denim jeans, some weighing four pounds each. More sack-lady dresses. Hippie dresses that scraped the floor, because I'm too short to wear long dresses made for normal people. What the hell was I thinking? I bought this stuff when I was young! Why would I have wanted to cover myself in sackcloth?

Pretty soon I was singing a little song with each piece of clothing I’d toss out the closet door. “I’ll never wear this again, I don’t want it at all. It means nothing to me, it’s practically an antique!” Operatic runs and rills, white rap. The piles grew. Hangers stacked and multiplied on the bed. I finally collapsed just before midnight, and was going into REM when Bill called to say he’d made it to Peru.I got up the next morning and started back in on it, because I was about a quarter done. Oh, here’s the infamous dress I’d worn only once. It has little Parisian street cafĂ© scenes on it and a big tulle skirt, and when I bought it I thought it was summery and charming, so much so that I wore it for a special event. At the end of the evening Bill confided that it kind of made me--which you aren't!! he hurriedly added--look just a teensy bit wide in the beam. I looked at the dress with new eyes. It made my butt look the size of Texas, to be exact. It might have been better to have known that before we’d stepped out. The event was my 25th college reunion dance. Oh, good. That's where you want people thinking how much you've swelled. (Ever notice that the gals who CAN dress in size zero skin-tight tubes at college reunions? I need to get with the program).

Since that soul-crushing moment, I've pulled that dress out and hung it back up probably a dozen times. Needless to say, that one went out the closet door with a flourish of tulle and Parisian street scenes, and a special snarl.

Some things I couldn't throw out. This fringed, sleeveless T-shirt/tunic, for instance, stating an essential libidinous truth. A souvenir of the Washington County Fair, and veteran of a Swinging Orangutangs Bad T-Shirt Night gig.By evening, I had 13 oversized black leaf bags full of clothes and one full of shoes. There were 30-year-old cowboy boots in there, that I could wear before I got pregnant and my feet spread with the extra weight I was carrying. There were clogs and slip-ons and horribly painful Evan Picones and ugly Sears old lady pumps and dopey short boots that clopped against my ankles when I walked and, when you get right down to it, pretty much anything that wasn't a Keen or a Pikolino went flying out the door.

Today, I took it all to the Salvation Army, where it joined a pile of black leaf bags full of similar stuff that was about 12' high and 20' long. There were women putting clothing on hangers and dumping some of it into hampers. It smelled of sweat and cigarettes in there. I left my sartorial past behind and got in the car and drove on, feeling a little smaller in the beam, a little lighter on the earth.


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