We bought our new house last July, so I figured it was finally time that I settled into organizing our bedroom closet this weekend. It was time to unpack the boxes, sort out the items ready for donation to Goodwill, and to finally make room to walk, in the walk-in closet.
I put on my iPod, the husband had the kids outside playing and I got into a groove. As I was folding, hanging and sorting, some of my most treasured and beloved items of clothing surfaced. My beat-up, second hand, tattered and worn leather jacket, a pair of size 4 (!!!) jeans, and a concert t-shirt from my first birthday spent with my husband, my 18th. 12 years later, I can't part with any of these things. I haven't been able to fit into any of them in over 6 years now, but Goodwill will never get their mitts on these. I hung them together to make an outfit, and hung the ensemble on the highest rod of my closet, facing outward where I will get to see them every time I open that closet door. I started to feel a little nostaligic for that time before we had kids, when it was just us, the romance was new, we were still finding our bearings, and we couldn't stop smiling. Those were the days when we still felt nervous around one another, we were always trying to be silly, or witty, and I was falling in love. That one outfit brought back so many long forgotten memories, that get overlooked in the muck and the mire of every day life. And, the woman, or girl really, I used to be, the girl who wanted nothing more than to go to a rock show at a club for her birthday, the girl who took chances, and who thought nothing of wearing a very ugly, and very beat-up leather jacket everywhere she went.
Under a tangle of sweaters, I caught a peek of a brown piece of material that I couldn't place. After unearthing it, I found it to be my favorite maternity shirt from my last pregnancy, over a year ago now. Under the shirt was my favorite pair of pregnancy jeans, clam diggers on anyone else, capris on my 5'1" frame. I could feel the tears welling up as I thought about that shirt pulled taut across my belly, the waist of the jeans resting below the pregnancy swell. I felt gorgeous in that outfit. In that outfit it didn't matter that I would never see a size 4 again, it didn't matter that I had stretch marks that wouldn't fade, it didn't matter that my skin was experiencing a pregnancy breakout. I felt alive, sassy, cute, and happier than I remembered being with the first baby. Perhaps because this pregnancy was an unexpected surprise, perhaps because the other two kids were here to enjoy it and see a new baby brought to our family, perhaps because I just loved being pregnant. Whatever the reason, that outfit held some of the warmest and loveliest memories of motherhood. That outfit too is hanging in the closet, next the other, where I can see it and remember those times. And, that baby, nestled snug and warm inside me, squirming and wriggling, to remind me I was never alone. That baby just turned 1 year-old last week, and like every birthday, it was bittersweet. Funny how a simple piece of cloth can make me feel and remember the joy I experienced during that pregnancy.
Maybe there is some merit to the childhood fear of Boogey-men living in closets. For me, clothes hold very specific and often dear memories. Some that haunt me, some that bring me back and make me wistful, and some that make me ache for times long gone. It is always with a heavy heart that I sort through the kids dressers, or bring a box to Goodwill, because while for some it is just clothes, for me it is another stitch in the fabric of time that I am giving away. I hope whoever wears these clothes when we are done with them will have good times and fond memories in them too. Is it just a coincidence that in literature closets are often the place of magic lands, secrets and great adventure? I don't think so.