For the first time in several years and several pounds, I clean out my clothes closet. Maybe that’s what makes me resolve to be ruthless in getting rid of much of it. A few things with price tags still attached. The dresses that don’t fit and the ones that I kept for unexpected school skit costumes when my daughters were in high school. I don’t really need to keep the flowered bridesmaid’s dress from my best friend’s wedding either. Anything stained or tight or frayed. The piles for Goodwill and the trash grow equally. I toss out pieces of my history.
I pitch a pair of worn sandals and the white heels I wore as a bride that pinched my feet. I send my daughter a picture of a pair of cream-colored flats to see if she wants them.
“Are those from the 80’s?” she texts back.
Hmm. Maybe. Doesn’t seem that long ago.
My pale green prom dress, as unattractive as it was, and my lacy wedding dress go back in. Some stories need to stay.
Now that I’m writing again, everything makes me think of stories. I finish the closet rack and shelves and turn to the dresser. My ruthlessness continues through my sock drawer. They’re just socks after all. But as I’m sorting through a couple decades of t-shirts, I think, it’s no wonder I find it so hard to edit. Everything has associations. Everything ties together to make a whole.
Since I started my blog last fall, I write stories. They’re not as wordy and rambling as the ones I tell in person, but I’ve gradually realized that staying on topic and speaking concisely are not my forte. Every piece I write should be edited down to its essence. I sometimes compose a gripping lede and often add a pithy closing. It’s the squishy middle that bogs me down.
It’s not that I haven’t pared down my clothes before. I have. It’s just that this time, I can pitch my favorite ancient dinosaur t-shirt that says, “Read! Avoid Extinction!”
If there is hope for my wardrobe, maybe there is hope for my essays as well.