Voices of the Northwest



Spring Cleaning

By Patricia Lynn Frank

"They grow in community and they are my favorite color. Camas teach me patience because to grow them, the seeds are scattered the first year to grow tubers so that finally by the second year, their glorious riot of purple spears implode the air."
From A Spring Meditation by Karen Lundblad


I finally did it. The deed I thought I could never commit as an adult. I had resisted all these years, turned my back on the temptation despite all the entreaties from friends and family, despite all the articles in newspaper and magazine, it was never attempted–let alone completed. But now it's done, finis, committed with deliberate care if not abandon, and I confess, I feel better for having done it. If you've any doubt, let me once again state with all clarity and sense of purpose, with voice firm and proud, Reader, I have done it, and it is done, and congratulations are the order of the day

For I have cleaned out my closest.

That's right, the jammed together, incestuous pit of a closet is cleared, organized even, and my chest swells with pride. This is a closet to behold, my closet. Color co-ordinated. By season. By clothing type. I found clothes I had not seen in years. We had a reunion of sorts, these clothes and me.

Why had I resisted this act so long?

I suspect it's not unusual for each of us to have our personal Achilles heel, and mine, always mine, and I thought forever mine, had been my closet. Oh, over the years I had donated a few token items, here and there. My biggest buying mistakes. The lurid and the ghastly. But never before this massive clean-up.

Now in my mid-fifties, would it be a farewell to my youth to abandon the kicky black leather mini-skirt, the slinky silver sheath? Even though they–and I–were far apart on the numerical scale–they being a size eight, and me being, well never mind, what's a few digits between friends?

And while thus engaged in this moment of truth, I also gathered together all the shoes–the pinchers, the sexy but out-of-style, the mules and clogs that fell off every time I climbed the stairs. Yes, all those shoes, too have been banished. My closet looks a bit threadbare and forlorn. The clothes hang on matching hangers, the skirts clipped neatly, the jackets on wooden hangers, the shoes in a neat row. Just so, precise, they invite me to hike or jog or boot up and be a cowgirl–and none of them hurt. Good shoes, waiting for adventures.

While I sorted, I remembered. Remembered the origin of each piece of clothing. Some bought new, some from consignment shops, a few gifts from dear friends. Those were the hardest to part with. The gifts. A scrapbook of memories and kind thoughts about friends, those still here, and one departed, but never forgotten. How could I part with the dress she had so sweetly given? Then I remembered how generous she was. Maybe this dress would serve another for a job interview, a lunch in a chic restaurant. I'll pass on her gift, I thought. And so this dress, too, was folded, and smoothed, and placed into the donation bag.

So it is done.

Farewell to my youth, but not to my dreams. For truth be told, lurking in the dark depths of the closet, is one tiny-sized frock–a frothy confection in tulle and satin, which will likely never fit me again. But it–and I–had such a romance, once upon a time, one New Years Eve, dancing to the Blue Danube at the Symphony Hall, it would take a much harder heart than mine to banish this cutie to a consignment shop. Clean closet or no, we girls must have our memories.

______
Copyright 2002 Patricia Frank . All rights reserved.

Patricia writes public relations for nice companies and essays like this for fun. She visited Eugene last Spring and had a swell time. 2patlyn@patriciafrank.com

See Patricia Frank's other essays at West by Northwest.org



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West By Northwest



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