Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coming out of the Closet (How I am halfway to my own episode of Hoarders)

My best friend Joanna (also mentioned here) was at my house to stay the night.  I was probably 14 years old.  Joanna is half Korean and half American, and back then, everyone talked about how she looked like the Miko doll that Barbie put out in the 80's.  She had beautiful tan skin and long, thick, dark hair.  She went to gymnastics (something I had always wanted to do) and she was far more athletic than I.  I was older than she was, and we were great friends, but I always struggled with feeling just a little inferior.  It mostly came down to money.  Joanna's family had money, and mine did not.  I felt like I could make up for everything else that I lacked, but money... well, my lack of it showed up in everything.  My house, my neighborhood, my clothes.  There wasn't much I could do about it.  Except get a job.  And get a job I did.  I started babysitting at the age of 13.  I bought my own makeup and clothes, and I did my best to never have to ask my parents for money.  When I started high school, I worked for my dad before and after school and with my regular paycheck, I filled my closet with the treasures I accumulated on my shopping trips with Joanna.  We had a regular habit of being dropped off at the Olive Garden for lunch, and then we would walk across the parking lot to Padre Staples Mall and shop for clothes and Hallmark cards and overpriced cookies from the food court.

On this particular night, Joanna and I were hanging out in my room and my closet door was standing open.  I happened to notice that very few things hung in my closet.  I instantly wondered what she would think.  It's crazy that I even cared... incredibly silly.  So, I did something stupid.  I showed her the "ironing closet".  As an adult, I now realize that ironing closets do not exist in most homes.  My mother, though, is a wrinkle Nazi.  She would take iron-worthy clothing out of the dryer, put it into baskets, and then store it in a giant hall closet, awaiting the iron and spray starch.  But I showed Joanna the ironing closet thinking that she would be impressed with the piles of clothes that I actually did own, even though they were wrinkled and not hanging in my closet.  My mother saw me do this, and I remember being reprimanded sharply for it.  I thought I was saying, "Look, I really do have clothes".  My mom saw me communicating, "Look at all the work my mom hasn't been doing".  It's kind of a weird story to stick in my head, but yesterday, memories of my empty closet days came flooding back to me.  Yesterday, I did the seasonal clothing transfer.

I don't know if anyone else does this, but somewhere in my adult life, I realized that it was pointless to keep tank tops and bathing suits in my drawers and closets throughout the winter.  So twice I year, I drag out oversized Rubbermaid containers filled with either "Fall/Winter" or "Spring/Summer" and I make the switch from container to closet.  And vice versa with the other set (or vice-ah versa for those of you who insist on saying things that aren't real words).  This season's transfer was more critical and necessary than those that came before it, because in less than a month, someone else will be moving into my tiny apartment, and seriously, there is no room for him.  Well, for him, yes.  For his stuff, not really.  So in the spirit of cooperation and sharing, I decided that I would attempt to give him his own closet.  Generous of me, I know.  There are three closets in my apartment.  One coat closet in the entryway and two small closets in the bedroom.  All three are full.  So, yesterday morning, I got trash bags.  Well, actually, Jake got trash bags.  And we spent the first half of a very rare shared day off sorting through clothing.  (Have I mentioned what a great guy I am marrying?)

Piles of ill fitting clothing
Years of changing from size 4's to 6's to 8's and back to 6's and 4's  
The size 2 capri pants that I fit into only because they are stretch  (I wish the size was on the outside of those things)  
A dress my friend Jamie bought me in China
The shirt that I wore to my 30th birthday party
8 pairs of black shorts, 7 of which are incredibly unflattering
6 pairs of Ann Taylor Loft pants with tags still attached because they went out of style before I got to wear them
My autographed Colbie Caillat t-shirt
5 pairs of knee length shorts (2 with tags) that always made me look fatter than I actually am
Brand new flip flops, purchased at the end of last summer for a dollar
Purses that haven't been used in a year or so, complete with old receipts, gum wrappers, and 10 expired Chick-fil-A coupons for a free spicy chicken sandwich

Six trash bags of clothing and shoes to donate.  14-year-old me would have been proud.  Impressed, even.  34-year-old me was just annoyed.  Seriously, where the heck did all of this stuff come from?  Oh yeah, I have a love affair with clothes and shoes.  I watched the look on Jake's face as I opened each container and took out handfuls of hangers from the closet.  (You better run now, honey.  In three and a half weeks, it's for better or for worse.  For richer AND for poorer.)  In the end, I looked at the six bags of clothing and purses and shoes and I was proud of all that I had accomplished.  Jake looked at pile of clothing that I was keeping and said, "You didn't even make a dent in it".  Pessimist.

At the moment, what's left of my Spring/Summer collection is sitting in a huge heap on my desk in my bedroom.  I have come to the realization that I will most likely be filling up more trash bags as I try to condense three closets worth of junk into two.  Right now, it is looking like the impossible dream.  I will persevere.  And don't worry, Jake.  You will probably get your own closet.  You can keep it neat and tidy.  You can organize all of your things by color and type, and you can hang your clothes on matching hangers.  But for the next three and half weeks, if any of you wonder where I am, I will be in my room sorting through piles of clothing, making room for a husband.        



  1. Just get a bigger apartment.Give your clothes its own room. ;)

  2. FYI I still hate wrinkled clothing, but I do not keep an ironing basket anymore. Your Dad's clothes go to the dry cleaners and mine get hung up directly from the dryer.



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