CLEAN OUT EVERYTHING!!
I wrote this article before I was slammed into self isolation.
Suddenly, everything I have ever owned was in my house for the first time in 3 years.
I had the task of merging my dorm and my childhood bedroom into a welcoming and non-chaotic environment. Not to mention I was finally thrilled to go through my old playroom and surreptitiously throw away the dolls that even as a 21 year old, I shy away from.
But self isolation or not, you still know that feeling.
The feeling when you open your drawer and it gets stuck on a notebook you wrote in during your science class in middle school, but it’s really filled with drawings of you and the cute boy in front of you. You see the jeans that you wore back in freshman year of high school that are now torn both in the crotch and butt.. And also sport that guy’s name… isn’t he in prison now? You see the jean shorts you cut from something thrifted that look more like what a country boy would wear ironically. You look at the dress you wore on your first ever date, the one that brings back memories of you thinking that he was ‘the one’, even though he was really ‘the one who went out with you once and called you his ex girlfriend’s name’.
You see the things that still hold memories in their stitching.
You want to keep them forever, but you’re faced with the duty of having to let go of a few dear friends of the past.
And now it’s the dreaded Spring time. The time where there is pressure to throw clothes away and forget the memories that you want so badly to hold close to you, no matter what a bad idea that leopard print mini skirt was. Not only is it Spring, it’s self isolation time.
Most of us literally have nothing else to do but tackle that closet.
So why do we clean?
We clean to make way for the new things.
We try to get rid of some old memories all the time. Our brains can’t hold everything and our hearts don’t really want to anyway.
In the same way, if our closets are overflowing, why don’t we get rid of the clothes that bring back those painful memories?
Throw out your past. Was it really good enough to hold onto anyway?
That’s why you’re not letting go.
Something is familiar about these clothes that have haunted your wardrobe for years now.
They are thrown into the back of your closet, forgotten about, but not yet so obsolete that they can be thrown out. They whisper to each other of memories and experiences. They hold onto a part of your life.
Can you tell that I really like my clothes?
But you still know that no matter what, you always reach in that darkened back of your closet and pull out your junior class shirt to sleep in. You can find your ex boyfriend’s t-shirt and pretend like you can still smell him. You find your granddad’s flannel and hold it close to your heart, feeling a little bit of him still there. These clothes aren’t just clothes, they’re your time capsules.
Memories and emotions are knitted into their fabric. Your life is made of a patchwork of these clothes and the things you experienced together.
So do you have to get rid of all of them?
But should they be taking up all this space in your 14 inch closet? Maybe not.
But how do you decide?
Well, here are some ways to declutter without deleting.
Organize your clothes by season.
- This helps my small closet issue and my donation piles. Every year, I take out everything in my closet, hold it, and put it into a bin. This act allows me to come face to face with everything I would wear. If I don’t like it or I question where the heck I would wear it, away it goes.
- Twice a year, one hour, that’s all it takes.
- Also, pulling out clothes you haven’t seen in a year similar to the feeling of reading through an old journal or seeing old pictures. It’s becoming familiar with old friends again, wanting to remember the last year together, but also celebrating in the new memories you are about to make. Or throw them out because, honestly, they don’t fit you anymore. That’s a great metaphor. Welcome to my Ted Talk.
- Right now, I have scraps of all my old t-shirts that would now be social suicide if I wore them anywhere but to bed. And I have about 20 ‘bed shirts’.
- I’m making a quilt out of them. I don’t want them to go away because of the emotional attachment I still harbor for them, but I need to not pretend like I’ll be wearing any of them ever again.
- My mom has decided to loosely follow a rule that for everything she buys, she will throw out another thing.
- Now, my mom has a walk in closet that is the size of my dorm room, so she really can do this exchange for about 10 years, but me? Not so much. So now this is an opportunity to throw out objects other than clothes.
- I’m a big fan of making money easily, and while it may be humiliating to go into a second-hand shop and come out with just as many bags as you went in with, at least you know that now they fit the criteria of being Goodwill fuel for both you and society.
Sex in the City it.
- One of my favorite scenes in this legendary cinematic art piece. Or just HBO trash, is when Carrie is moving and she invites her friends over to judge her clothes. She makes it a party! Champagne, judge panels, and memories to hold dear.
There are millions of ways to clean your piles of clothes that haven’t been touched in years, but these ways do not involve tossing out memories.
Don’t throw things away just to get the task done, you’ll regret it and also despise spring cleaning the next time it rolls around.
Make it an adventure. Honestly, with self isolation, cleaning might be the most invigorating thing you’ve done all week, rivaling only your walk 5 feet outside of your back door to walk your dog.
See the clothes you still house as opportunities for new life and remembrances of old ones.
Yes, spring cleaning isn’t always the most thrilling activity, but you can surely make it as much of an adventure as it can be.
You are able to see the lifetime you’ve collected captured in the cotton of your past.