Out of the Closet

I’m starting a new project around my house: Cleaning out and reorganizing all the cupboards, closets, cabinets and drawers. You don’t realize how much storage you have until you start to organize it. You also don’t realize how much mind-bogglingly useless junk you’ve accumulated despite the fact that you’ve been whining for two years that this house is too small and there’s no room for all of my stuff.

Sometimes the smaller the house the more messy it is, just because there’s no place for your junk to spread out. In our last house, if I wanted to save something, there were spare rooms all over the place in which to stash catalogs, old campaign buttons, ticket stubs for memorable shows, and clothes that don’t fit me and have shoulder pads and jewel tones.

My reorg project started with my bedroom closet. It had become a crap magnet. In addition to all the things that I used to keep in our basement back when we had one, I was storing all of our games and puzzles, Christmas gifts I’ve bought in advance, camera equipment and all of our winter coats, including the Mother of All Winter Coats, the Chicago Bulls jacket. I bought it for my son when he was about 9 and we lost him in it for a few winter days. It’s a big black and red city of down and nylon. It was a popular winter sledding coat for the entire family (maybe because we could fit two slim people in it at once) and my coat of choice for putting up the Christmas lights up north. The Bulls coat takes up about 1/7th of my closet. I know, I live in Florida, but you really never know when you’re going to need a garment that will raise your body temperature 10 degrees in 10 minutes.

My closet is also the gift wrapping station for our house. I have a large collection of gift bags that I’d love to reuse (it’s not “re-gifting” if it’s a bag. Shut up.) but they are for such specific gift-giving events that I never find myself needing them. Who is ever going to need a wine gift bag in a baby theme? How’s about a beer-label collage in Easter colors? I can’t bear to throw them away, though, so they get their own shelf in my closet.

Also in my closet:

A big black hat with a feather that I can only wear to Kentucky Derby parties and even then, not really a good choice. I look like the Mad Hatter in it.

Lots of “good boxes.” The little boxes that the iPhones come in are nicer than my jewelry box. They’re smooth and shiny and black and when you lift the lid off you feel like you’re going to find an engagement ring or the keys to a Maserati inside. Also four very nice shoe boxes from Johnston &  Murphy, and a cigar box that smells like cedar. Keepers, every one of them.

A box of Obama chum. By the end of my work on the Obama campaign, I was buying variety packs of Obama t-shirts, hats, buttons and other merchandise and selling it to the people who preferred the impulse buy that can only come from a political rally where people are shouting, “Yes, we can!” Except when I tried to get people to buy the last of it, they said, “No, we can’t.” I figure it’ll be worth something someday. They’ll wish they had it.

A diaper bag. You all know how much I love babies. When I got rid of all of my baby things, I kept the diaper bag and threw in a couple of newborn sleepers, little socks, some receiving blankets and my own baby blanket. This will be a lifesaver when my Finding a Baby in the Woods While I’m Out Running fantasy comes true.

Novelty shoes. I don’t know what else to call them. My shoes are lined up in order of importance: Shoes I wear for everyday, shoes for with dressy pants, shoes for with dressy dresses, athletic shoes, beach shoes, and novelty shoes - black velvet flats with the embroidered Christmas trees, the magenta suede slip-ons, a pair of Chinese shoes, and cowboy boots.

Novelty clothes. I have a kilt from Ireland, a black angora dress I bought on my honeymoon in New York City (and then later spilled champagne on at dinner and I just tossed back my hair and laughed. Yeah, that’s right), a Bill Clinton collectible sweatshirt, the dress my mom wore to my wedding, and a wetsuit. Other than the kilt, which I used to wear once a year to teach my CCD kids about St. Patrick, I will never wear any of my novelty clothes. But I just can’t bring myself to put them in the memorabilia bins in storage.

All this explains why I wear the same five outfits. Who has room for clothes in a closet that’s filled with these treasures?

Labels: , , , , , ,