The installers from Home Depot just left and I find myself tiptoeing in and out of our new closet. I am in awe of its spaciousness, its emptiness, its one-day-only neat-as-a-pin-ness. It is big enough to dance in, sprawl about or do yoga – so why am I inching from corner to corner, quiet as the new soft close drawers?
I should be whooping it up. For decades we’ve dealt with the limitations of a 40+ year old bedroom closet. Only in realtor-spin would it be considered a walk-in, meaning you can walk into the narrow space. But once in, there’s not much more you can do. You can’t find your good gray pants or your wedge heels. You can’t avoid the avalanche of sweaters stacked high … or the bed of nails torture of overturned heels below.
This new closet is welcome news and a wonder to behold: Built-ins! Wooden shelves and drawers! Room for a bureau and bench!
My wardrobe is beyond happy. And I am wracked with unexpected guilt.
My husband shakes his head in bewilderment: “But this is what you wanted.” Of course it is, but still: I can’t escape an element of self-reproach. Such indulgence, I scold myself, to invest in expanding your space to store your expanding stuff.
Such immoderation, I think, as I contemplate what will go where. Who needs this many pairs of shoes, white blouses, jeans, cardigans? You get where I’m going with this – just fill in the Bingo card of random clothing items. The only article of clothing missing is the hair shirt I deserve right now.
The guilt grows as I start to fill the space with pieces retrieved from under the bed, closets in other rooms and long-neglected piles. After listening to my angst, a friend puts it to me plainly: “You’ve come face-to-face with your demons.” She is so right! Having room to spread out the bounty I realize just how much is there. It’s like a move, I think, when you start emptying out the attic, garage, cabinets and cubbies of domestic life.
It’s like the ruse we pull when we’ve gone overboard on a shopping spree and bring a single bag into the house, leaving the rest in the truck to be stealthily slipped in later. (Oh, come on! I know I’m not the only one.)
It’s like me turning in this Parthenon of a closet, naively wondering how will we ever fill this space?
Because I do love clothes, and shoes, and shopping. In my defense, I am skilled at bargain-hunting. I frequent consignment shops and thrift stores. I rarely throw anything out.
My mother used to tease that I wore costumes, not outfits. (This coming from the woman who brought antique opera glasses to see Phantom of the Opera.)
And there’s some truth to that, I suppose. A trip to the mountains – even if we’re just meeting friends for lunch – calls for jeans and rugged boots and a big wooly Irish sweater. Rainy days find me decked out like the Gloucester fisherman. And holidays, well let’s just say that I rise – and accessorize – to any occasion. When my daughter’s gang of middle school friends were at our home preparing for a school party, one asked if I had any tacky Christmas sweaters. Personally, I prefer to think of them as festive, not tacky, but I was able to outfit the whole lot of them in sugarplums, Santa’s, reindeers and snowmen.
Remember the 1980s’ trend of analyzing your skin tone to decide what color type you were? I am a spring and was told that I look best in fruity colors: mango, blueberry, purples and peach. I took that and ran with it, straight through the orchard/mall – to my new custom closet. Which will certainly be organized by color since we’ve determined I am a rainbow-hued unicorn – not a fashion horse.
To atone for my gluttony, I am doing a long overdue purge – getting rid of heels that hurt, peasant tops and anything with shoulder pads. I will keep, in lovely new right-sized drawers, my collection of vintage handbags. An array of lovely shawls and scarves. Pink rainboots. A 1920s-style flapper dress. A British-inspired jacket with epaulets. And the opera glasses – just in case my closet chandelier (don’t judge!) decides to take a dive.
About the author: Lucinda Trew holds degrees in journalism and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an award-winning – and appropriately attired! – speechwriter, poet and essayist. Her work has appeared in The Fredricksburg Literary and Art Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Bangor Literary Journal, San Pedro River Review, Flying South, Medium, The Mighty, Blunt Moms, Boomer Café and other journals. She lives and writes in a splendid new closet in Charlotte, NC. Twitter: @LucindaTrew Instagram: @lucindatrew Facebook: www.Facebook.com/TrewWords