In the Scheme of Things: Closet Memories

closetIt wasn’t my husband’s minimized space allocation that elicited my attention; nor the overfilled shelves, stuffed hanging rods, or disappearing floor space. It was the late summer real estate market and the hope of selling our home during peak tourist season when Flathead Valley swells with visitors exploring Glacier National Park. It’s the time of year when first timers to Montana fall in love with what those of us who live here already know – it’s an amazing place.

With every conceivable delay orchestrated during late spring and early summer, I avoided the closet cleaning task for some time. But I had no more excuses and resolving the overflowing problem was required.

I found myself surprised by the accumulation of stuff the closet held and the memories woven like threads into cloth, of a wedding here or a birthday celebration or a special event there. The closet housed years of my life. To others, the appearance of outdated clothes, unfashionable shoes and well-worn favorites too dear to part with, was merely a hodgepodge of no longer used clothing and accessories.

But to me, there was a history or a story or a hope attached to each item. Fat clothes, thin clothes, medium clothes hung along one wall, like conquering warriors or future battles to win, reminding me of successes and failures along the way.

The dress soaked with tears during my father’s funeral hung near-by. I could never bear to wear it again, yet how could I part with it? Could I give away the dress I wore at my son’s wedding, embedded with joy, or the sweaters worn holding new granddaughters that were permeated with love? What about the safari clothes worn during a big anniversary trip to Botswana? It’s doubtful I’ll ever wear them again, but part with them? I don’t know.

Memories flooded in as I wandered through the decades hanging in that closet – from East Coast executive to North Fork off-the-grid cabin owner – the contrast in attire and life experiences were captured on hangers.

Yet, with closer closet scrutiny, along with the loving memories, I realized the not-so-wonderful feelings of failures and disappointments were housed there, too. Remnants of the person I was seemed more prominent than the person I’m evolving to become. I reeled at the confining, constricting, no-longer-me styles unreflective of my current lifestyle and dreams.

In the scheme of things, I discovered my closet was a museum of my past. Once I decided to let the contents instead reflect where I’m heading, the cleaning task became easier. No longer weighed down by tangible expressions of what was, the future feels lighter already. And all those memories? They never lived in those trappings anyway; they live in my heart, and in the person I am today.