Cleaning Out The Closets: A Trip Through The Abyss


I can always tell when spring and autumn have arrived and it has nothing to do with budding flowers or falling leaves. It concerns the cycle of life that revolves around summer and winter clothing. Every year I harbor secret fears about what I might find in the back of my closets. As a writer of horror fiction, the possibilities are endless.

With courage and dignity I try to face this chore, thinking not what I can do for my closets but rather what they can do for me. Cleaning them out requires such an effort that I put it off until I can do so no longer. The art of procrastination has nothing on anyone else, except maybe Scarlet O’Hara’s tomorrow and another day.

I open the closet door and piles and piles block my view; my heaps have heaps. Suddenly, everything I own and cannot find is looking back at me with accusing, disorganized eyes. I usually tackle the floor and my shoes first. That gives me a place, however tenuous, to stand. I put my shoes into racks or boxes in the order I need them, with seasonal in reach and out of season in the back.

It would help to label the boxes, as I will not remember which is which, even though I always swear that this won’t be necessary. Labeling boxes will postpone a new mess, for at least a little while. Then I work my way up to what’s dangling, sort of hanging and should be hanging.

I have learned not to attack first and ask questions later. I go through everything with three options in mind; give away, put away or throw away. Decide what is important, garment-by-garment, shoe-by-shoe, box-by-box, missing person by missing person.

Everything else I give away. I summon the inner strength to make these purging and sorting decisions and try to remember that it only hurts for a little while, especially if I can force myself to clean up and put things away as part of my daily routine (I can’t do it, but maybe you can.).

I remove everything from the closet and throw it on my bed. This forces me to complete the job at hand before bedtime. I step back and reduce my closet to two zones; need and don’t need (but would if I could find it).

The psychological aspects of closet clutter are undeniable. I avoid asking questions such as: Why do I like chaos? What does all this disorganization do for me? And last but not least, Dr. Phil’s: “How’s that working for you?” I think instead of what I could become if I were just a little bit more organized. Perhaps a king among kings or a queen among queens (if I could find your crown, that is).

Who knows what awaits us all in the organized after-life? I can’t say because I’m not even sure where I am in this life at any given moment. All anyone can really do, I suppose, is hope for the best. Maybe the Holy Grail isn’t really in the back of my hall closet. I can’t open it anyway. Or what about all those missing planes and ships in the Bermuda Triangle? Nah, my closets aren’t big enough. Jimmy Hoffa? Well, maybe…

(photo courtesy of Fotosmile/