When I am in the second grade, my family and I live in a nice, pink little home in downtown Mobile, Alabama. The street is lined with oak trees and every spring we’d get a new pink stripe on either side of the road to mark the route of the Azalea Trail, upon which dainty belle Azalea Trail Maids would saunter during the annual parade.
Next door to our terribly cute pink house there is a terribly cute white house. There isn’t a baby weeping willow in the front yard like in ours, but I forgive them because there are children who live there with whom I get to play. But let me qualify that the children who live on that property actually live in the garage apartment behind the cute white house.
Their bedroom overlooks our backyard, so they know when Brittany (my little sister two and a half years my junior) and I are outside playing. These two little girls come over and play on our swing set and run around the yard with us.
One night mom starts going through out closets. Brittany and I have ample wardrobe and we’ve outgrown most of it. It’s not that we have so much, but that mom shops sales in such a way that’s almost frightening. I scream, “No! I NEED that hot pink t-shirt with the brown puppy and rainbow with Swatch Watch detail! Don’t throw it away!”
Brittany, never one to be left out, bellows, “Gimme my dress!” She snatches it from the pile mom is going to donate.
And so my parents try to make space in the closets and drawers while two little girls fight them every step of the way.
Until mom says, “We could give these to those girls next door. They’re smaller than ya’ll and I bet they’d like to have some new clothes. I bet these things would fit.”
Somehow, having faces to which we can attribute the people wearing our precious regalia, Brittany and I stand down, even helping mom sort what we are going to keep and what we’re going to share.
The next day, while the girls are over playing, my dad says to their dad, “Hey, we’ve got somethings the girls can’t fit into anymore, would you like them?”
So dad goes in and gets the bag and hands over the loot. The girls squeal and run home to try on the outfits they see peeping out of the sac.
An hour later, the girls come over and they are wearing new clothes. I remember thinking, they’ve come here to show us their new clothes that were our old clothes yesterday. I can’t assure the reader that my then thought was that articulate, but that’s the gist of it. It was fun to see something become new again all of the sudden. Like the puppy and rainbow in Swatch Watch detail looked reinvigorated on my neighbor.
Yesterday, I have lunch at a friend’s house in Fort Walton. While the rice cooks, she pulls out some pieces of clothes that she thinks might fit me. There is one piece in particular, it’s a white romper with a tie waist. When my friend pulls this number out, my pants come off before she can get them unfolded and I put this thing on. I am cute! Reader, let me tell you. I am so cute, I lap her living room so the flowing shorts can whip around my thighs before I take them off.
When I leave this friend’s house, another friend calls me and asks me to stop by, because someone passed on a whole bunch of yoga pants and not all of them fit, would I like to see if I can wear any of them?
So I scoot over to this lady’s house. She is in a frenzy getting her house in order for visiting guests this weekend and cleaning out closets and generally making space. Very business like, she begins throwing yoga pants at me. For the second time that day, I am standing in a very dear friend’s livingroom in a thong and tank top. She puts one pair of yoga pants on me after another and they look amazing. She is so generous, she pulls out some long-sleeved t-shirts, too, that will be very appropriate for all the very serious business of cold weather yoga play.
When I get home, I run in and pull these things out; the white romper with the swishing short legs and the billowy camel colored yoga pants. I make my mother look at all manner and angles of my new clothes because I’m most excited.
I am inspired by my friends’ industrious closet cleaning. I am inspired by Laura’s yoga class theme of the day, too, about making room in one’s life, either literally by cleaning out closets or metaphorically by releasing ideas and beliefs that no longer serve us. Nature really does abhor a vacuum, and I’ve sucked up a lot with the hose of my life. I got to thinking about my hall closet.
There is a small village of shoes I have not worn since beauty school. There are Barbie pumps that haven’t been new since I graduated beauty school. There is this one dastardly pair of heels that I so loved that when I was on my way out one night, I discovered the sole was lifting. Without taking the things off my feet, I plugged in the glue gun, made the necessary repairs and was kicking up my heels in less than an hour. There are also shoes that are still quite nice that I have never worn, but just bought because they were cute and I might….
There are purses with match books from places that aren’t even open anymore. There are two messenger bags with rejection letters from agents who have now retired or died. Yet, there they are, these bags and shoes, loitering in my closet. And so I begin pulling things out, making space at first just in this closet. I remove one large kitchen bag worth of clothes, shoes and bags and one large kitchen bag full of trash. When I am finished the closet looks like brand new space. And subtly, there is new space in my mind, too. I can’t explain it but this process is liberating and cathartic.
This isn’t the end, though. Because to solidify the intention of making space, I believe you must share, passing something of yourself and history on, releasing it and allowing someone else to make it new. There is a Good Will on my way to work, and it is here that I walk in with shoes and purses and deposit these things with a white-haired old man with long thin arms and strong corded fingers.
He thanks me.
I thank him.
He appreciates what I have to give and I appreciate what he can take.
Dear Reader, try this. Try this at the holiday, when it really is the thought that counts. I found a witch’s hat my niece covets she can have the next time I see her. There is a coconut purse with old history between a longtime friend and I, and I’m gonna pass this thing onto her daughter, who will hear the story when she’s of legal age. I found some fabric that a girlfriend is going to flip over. In the space of removing things, I also found little bits of myself. These little items will make someone’s day, and the process of excavation made mine.
Move energy around in your life by giving and receiving of each other and get back to me, I’d like to see how it goes for you.