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What Lies Within

The chore seemed overwhelming since my wardrobe has expanded to cover three different sizes: yesterday, today, and wishful thinking.

Remember Carrie Bradshaw’s dream closet in the movie Sex in the City 2? We all oohed and aahed in the theater when she unveiled her luxurious walk-in Shangri-La. Several dozen pairs of stunning designer shoes (each costing at least a month’s salary) were perfectly aligned on shelves, sparkling under hidden light bulbs, conveying the sophistication and passion of their owner. A multitude of drawers lined the dress/shirt niches both above and below. Each niche appeared to hold a category of clothes: casual, business, and “knock ‘em dead” designer dresses. Special outfits were displayed on special hooks. An upholstered bench stood conveniently in the middle of the glamorous room for trying on those Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutins and Jimmy Choos.

As much as I drooled at the thought of such an extravagance, I knew it wouldn’t look as alluring if I owned it. My trendiest shoes from DWS (with frayed rubber on the “spikes” of kitten heels) did not warrant an illuminated spot of honor. But, there were the perfect “never worns” that would fit my feet comfortably if I cut holes in their leather sides to accommodate my bunions, or if I sliced off a couple of inches off their spiked heels (what was I thinking?). They existed in their boxes solely for my fantasy of click clacking across a room making that sexy “I have arrived” sound. In reality, an annoying squeak was more likely to follow my footsteps.

It was time to face my own humble closet to change out my summer clothes to winter wear. The chore seemed overwhelming since my wardrobe has expanded to cover three different sizes: yesterday, today, and wishful thinking. I could have filled Carrie’s room with no problem.

There are scarves and dresses I’ve never worn, shoes that pinch my wide feet, and slacks that need to be shortened. The dresses need to be lengthened at least three inches to cover my chubby knees. I can do it myself, I’ve said over the years even though my sewing machine has been long gone. Maybe, I will take them to the tailor. Maybe that would cost more than the garments did. Maybe they will disintegrate by the time I get them there.

The scarves are permanently creased on their original plastic hoops. Bold images, tiny flowers, rubbed velvet, frilly, lacy – each design has a telltale sign of its age.

Why do I keep them? I wish I knew.

As I peered into my small(ish) closet packed tightly on one side with my clothes in assorted sizes and the other side with my husband’s pants and shirts, I realized I didn’t need lighted shelves or niches (though the niches would be ever so nice!). All I needed to do was conquer my slight hoarding proclivity. That’s all; a piece of cake, right? Give away the dress I wore to the son’s college graduation eighteen years ago, or the one I bought for my daughter’s wedding – the perfect cocktail dress that I never wore again. And then, there are the silk blouses with the slightly strained button holes that I always wore to holiday parties and special events.

As I pushed through the mangle of fabrics, I came upon a ridiculously sheer bathing suit cover up I wore before the kids were even a thought. It was the first item to hit the bottom of the bag destined for the thrift shop.

My husband came in to check on me. “Are you actually getting rid of anything,” he asked?

“Of course,” I replied with my back to him. “You could stand to clean out your side, you know.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” He agreed assessing his own relics of the past.

Soon, I heard thumps as objects, crumpled into wads, were thrown into the bag.

“I’ll match you piece for piece,” my husband said, dumping five pairs of thick wale corduroys at once. “You’re way behind,” he taunted. “Here,” he said grabbing a handful of hangers with my slacks that hadn’t been worn in years.

“Let me know if you need help zipping them up.” He grinned and handed them to me. He ducked as I threw them back. They landed in a tangle on top of the almost full bag. We needed a big box.

The afternoon flew by as we reminisced. Well, I reminisced; he half-listened. A plastic container on the top shelf held a fisherman sweater from our trip to Ireland (seventeen years ago), a crazy neon-colored scarf from the Caribbean that was older than our son, and our daughter’s high school sweatshirt that I wore on rainy days. I held the garment to my nose. I swear I could still smell her hair inside the hood.

The shoes were easier to let go – except for the sandals with the changeable jewels. If only I could find those pieces of snap on glitz. They had to be here . . . somewhere.

“Wasn’t there anything you found difficult to get rid of?” I asked.

“Nope.” He rolled up a perfectly good dress shirt and shot it into the box like a basketball. “A pair of jeans and a sweater is all I need.”

I groaned at the truth of it.

I stood back and surveyed the transformation. There was space between dresses. My blouses hung straight and unwrinkled. No plastic hangers jutted errantly out of line. I did keep the three sizes of jeans – you just never know.

Four containers filled to the brim of perfectly good cast offs to be donated – quickly before I could change my mind.

I snaked my hand into one of the boxes and felt around for the thick, soft sweatshirt my daughter had worn so many years ago. I took it out and pulled it on, adjusting the hood to cover my head. I put both hands in the front pouch like she used to do. Some things are meant to be kept for a rainy day.


  1. What a great job again. You had me laughing one moment and feeling sad the next. I just did this myself. Only thing I could go back again and get rid of more clothes. Small steps…..

  2. I laughed out loud! Been there and done that several times. I could still do it again. ?. You nailed it.

  3. This was perfect Ro…I too have those dresses I wore to our children’s wedding. You never know when I might need it…lol!

  4. Such a good story! I can’t believe you have clothing that old. We really have to be ruthless when purging our closets. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that someone will be blessed by our donations. And – I get dizzy just looking at the spiked heels in the department or shoe stores. Let the young ruin their feet!

  5. “Yesterday, today, and wishful thinking” best size description I’ve heard. Nostalgic and humorous story. Now I must go clean a closet.

  6. I was just about to donate a bag full of clothes, but I think I might have to look through it one more time! Love your writing, Rose, and miss sharing our stories.

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