Ah, the slow-crawling days of deepest winter. Lead-gray, sodden, and short, these are the days that incline us to stay inside and shut tight the door. In the sanctuary of home, we turn inward, to examine…what? Maybe, our plans and hopes for the year. Or, perhaps the insides of our hearts. Or, if we are brave enough, we might face the deepest, darkest, and oft-ignored secrets of:
The insides of our closets.
That last one can outflank an innocent soul in the work of a moment. If you think, like I did, that you can escape the menace of creeping closet chaos by slamming the door and feigning other priorities, well, your closet may indicate otherwise.
Mine did. Turn away at your peril, the snarky space seemed to snarl. If you are skating dangerously close to the same dire straits, I offer the fellow sufferer three key indicators as guideposts. You might need to clean out your closet if:
1. You strain a pectoral muscle trying to shove the hangers apart. Unless you are training for a bodybuilding competition or lifting large bales of hay one at a time, you probably never strain your chest muscles in that fashion. Picture yourself with right arm extended, palm vertical and flat, muscles taut as you give a determined shove to the left, across your chest, in your best effort to make enough open space to extricate one recalcitrant garment. Owwww! There are so many hangers in there, the clothes are frozen solid, standing together in solidarity like a giant, upright, impenetrable pile of laundry for a family of 10. Right pec, left pec, shove whichever direction you may, doesn’t matter. Something, or sadly, several somethings, have gotta go.
2. You reach for that elegant handmade black cross-body, and another purse falls out on your head. This stunning, oversized (of course!) leaping tote achieves a decent bounce, landing precisely where the innocent cat lazily lounged on the bed just an instant ago. This is hurtful. And I don’t mean on the thin skin that anchors my hair onto my (thick, I’ve been told) skull. The pride is wounded, for this is the one section of the closet I felt certain was under control. A year ago (or three? or five?) I delighted in the acquisition of a row of sectioned plastic shelf units, ideal for my purse collection, of which I am inordinately fond. After a quick purge of a few non-starters, I cheerily stacked the bags inside these efficient little units, displaying them by type and size, upright, visible, and ready for action. The end result was so smashing that I texted “before and after” photos to the most methodical and organized soul of my close acquaintance, then basked in her congratulatory response. What happened after that recedes into the mists, of course, but somehow, overcrowding supplanted order. The closet was thereby forced to eject its own evidence.
3. The cat tells no tales, but emerges victorious. Bending to snare a pair of boots stuck under something on the closet floor, I turned to see the cat freeze, alert and twitching, at the ready. She makes a furtive dive into a dark far corner, out of sight. When she reappeared, she wasn’t exactly licking her lips, but her strut and tail angle communicated a conquest that she could not share aloud. Ick. Ugh. Yuk. This particular closet abuts an angled wall and, for some strange reason, the builder left open the pie-shaped, useless back corner space. What to do? Get a flashlight and learn what she caught back there, if there’s anything left of it? Who are we kidding? The solution stands before me, on four dainty white feet. I’ll just open the door, let her in there every so often, and assume that she will execute her duty, we might call it. What are cats for, anyway?
Ah, well. Winter is on the downhill slide, and soon our thoughts will turn to other things. Before gentle spring breezes and waving daffodils lure us outside, away from the internal, the dark and unseen, we are called forth to undertake this excavation, this vital and authentic rite of winter. Grant us courage. Better give it a go now, before someone else gets hurt.