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One Man’s Treasure

Nostalgia lives on some of those hangers, along with a haze of dust

Cleaning out a master bedroom closet, a necessary evil, can be fraught with the dangers of unknown peril. Prowling through long-forgotten clothes and musty boxes can be a trip down memory lane, and like any important journey in life, this adventure should begin with forethought and intent. Tefillas Haderech comes to mind.

Allowing yourself the time and the mindset to meet forgotten outfits and objects. If you’re brave enough to take everything out and put it on the bed you may have to find someplace else to sleep for the next month or two.

Hanging there ever so silently are old hopes, dreams, memories and long forgotten joys — some with the tags still attached — that you just don’t have the heart to discard or give away, even though both you and they are past their prime. If you want to be Marie Kondo’s BFF, force yourself to let go even of those items which spark joy by allowing them to spread that happiness anyplace else but where they live right now.

Nostalgia lives on some of those hangers along with the slight haze of dust that’s settled on the protruding shoulder pads. In our younger years colors prevailed. Those are the items that have been stuffed into the back of the closet.

As we matured (aged) we expanded our horizons by wearing any and every shade of black. This, quite honestly, has nothing to do with false modesty and absolutely everything to do with what we hope makes us look thinner. Caveat: Taking off your glasses is not a panacea, and mirrors do not lie, unless you’ve unscrewed the light bulb. Squinting counts.

Anyone who questions my ability to multi-task hasn’t seen me smile — while sucking in my stomach and standing for what seems like forever in too-tight shoes that I had no business wearing but looked more fashion-forward than the comfortable ones that easily give away my age. Those heels deserve to be preserved. And so do their matching handbags…

My commitment to emunah can be seen in the real estate that I’ve devoted to apparel whose size is wishful thinking, and my definition of bitachon is characterized by my Weight Watchers membership card.

Some of the dresses, accessories, and shoes in my closet have witnessed more than their fair share of the unspoken struggles in life. Ever try squeezing yourself into something that defies quantum physics? Without any stretch, either it zips or it doesn’t. There’s a lot of “doesn’t” hanging there…

Too many of us wallow in “one day” and promise ourselves too much for too long. If we’re stuck in the past there’s no room for the future. That works for clothing as well as grudges. I want to make room for more happiness.

But why is it so much easier to get rid of his stuff than mine? I’m so good at telling him what needs to go on his side of the closet. Fortunately, he’s intuitive enough to stay quiet when it comes to my side. Smart guy.

There are some things that are better left unsaid. “How does this look on me?” does not and should not have a response. Don’t push it.

There’s a special place in Heaven for those of us who have married off our youngest children to the children of those who are doing the same with their oldest — and I have the gown to prove it. Being seen and photographed for posterity in a style and color that can best be described as questionable (whatever was I thinking?) was definitely penance for something. And the dress, in Robin’s Egg Blue, hangs there as witness. Hold your applause, please, till you’ve seen the fabric shoes I had dyed to match.

Shoes? Wanna see this yellow and teal striped pair? “If the shoe fits, buy it in every color,” is something I considered a commandment from Sinai. And I’m religious enough not to waste.

I tend to get stuck on stores and their labels. I’m on a first name basis with the icons of style who have kept me company throughout the years and live in Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom.

I hear their names and I swoon — even when I’ve had to settle for their counterfeit wannabes at T. J. Maxx, Marshalls, H & M, Zara and Kohl’s. Chico’s is still timeless. When they all went to online sites, I considered it my private gift from on High.

The “Once Upon a Time” moment is the lavender raw silk shantung sheva brachos outfit, which I wore exactly twice, and is still on its matching-colored satin-covered hanger. It’s for my eyes only and goes right back to its coveted place because some things just defy reason.

We won’t discuss the “before, during, and after” wardrobes. They hang there paying silent homage to times gone by. Talk about courage — I boldly tossed the once-cute navy and white houndstooth weave maternity dress that I always loved. My baby is 38.

Let’s face it… this challenge isn’t for the faint of heart.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 794)

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