She had put off going through her closet for over a year. Even today, she started only by opening the doors to the closet that spanned the entire length of one of the bedroom walls. With the closet doors open and the project at task in plain view, Claire sat down on her bed to “think” through the process.
Her mind wandered back in time to other closet reorganizations. She smiled to remember the boyfriend who had asked, “You’ve got so many clothes. Have you ever considered moving your bed into the closet and using the bedroom to store your clothes and shoes?” Obviously, he had been joking. Or, had he?
She tried to think back to being married. It was so long ago now. Had it really been 24 years ago that it all fell apart? Back then, she had to share a closet. Memories of closet with a his-side and her-side made her feel once again the sadness of a failed marriage. She remembered having to pack all of his clothing for him to take off to a new house with a new woman already in his life. It was a sad time. Claire had a memory of hugging his favorite t-shirts as she packed them. She pulled them towards her chest and fell on her knees. It reminded her of all that old pain.
Ah, it was happier to think of being a mother and helping her children organize their closets. She had made a system that worked well. Her daughter or her son would sit in a chair facing Claire and their closet. Claire would take items out one by one and hold them up waiting for her child to give a thumbs up or thumbs down. All of the unwanted clothes were recycled at the thrift stores. Some of the clothing brought laughter because it was associated with being out of date or had some other hysterical memory attached.
Even during the sad days of Claire’s divorce and healing, she easily seemed to take over the his-side of the closet. Clearly a perk of being single is more closet space. After all, now she was dating and starting a new job. Both of these were activities that needed dedicated closet space for the specific type of outfits she wanted to own. The dating clothing and work clothing were of a very different sort. Dating included some sexy low cut tops and work required a more modest skirt and sweater type look.
She had seen a therapist back then. The therapist had encouraged Claire to take on a persona he called “Mary-Lou.” This persona would be a woman who was so confident in herself that she would say encouraging things to herself before going on a date. A classic Mary Lou statement might be something like, “if a man spends 5 minutes with me, that will be the best 5 minutes of his evening.” It sounds so ridiculous now, but back then, it gave Claire the courage to be a bit daring in her wardrobe and lip stick choices. The therapist said that the Mary Lou persona would stop worrying about what others thought about her and worry about whether she would like them. So Claire used to go out like a female warrior on her dates. Now, many years had gone by and Claire no longer wanted to be a Mary Lou. Claire was now finally comfortable with being herself. No more need to bat the eyes and do the head bobs. Once you get old enough, some of the past is just completely embarrassing.
Claire looked at her closet again. She noticed that now that she had become a grandmother her life felt completely fulfilled.
These days the closet had no low cut tops anymore. She started laughing to remember her friend Heidi calling from a cell phone while she was on her way to a blind match.com date. Heidi had spent over an hour getting all “dolled-up.” Heidi told Claire that she had applied heavy make-up, a flashy outfit, and even a hair extension to capture the attention of her date. Claire asked Heidi how she looked. Heidi replied, “so, basically, I think I now look like a Grandma clown who is wearing too much makeup and trying too hard!”
Claire was helpless with laughter. Once again, she felt so happy to have friends that shared with her. There had been a time for certain alluring clothing, but now, Claire wanted to make sure not to have any part of a Grandma clown routine. Now, clothing could be for comfort. Look neat, look clean, look cozy.
Claire snapped out of her day-dreaming and looked at the closet and the project at hand. She was amazed by something. What got her attention now were all of the clothes with a what-if story. They had only been purchased based on possible scenarios. For example, Claire would say to herself, “what if I get invited to a wedding”, or “what if I need a special dress for the art gallery.” There were also tops that still had the price tag attached because they were so special she dared not to wear them for fear of spilling wine down the front of the embroidered lace blouse.
So, here is the dilemma that Claire had to answer. Should she keep what-if’s and too nice to wear items? Should she just be bold and wear them anyway, should she pack them for some lucky woman to find at the thrift shop? Should she just live or should she keep waiting?
She is still making up her mind. And, while she is making up her mind, it seems best to put the closet reorganization on hold again.