Conflict In the Closet


The day has come. Finally, I’ve been shamed into cleaning out my closet, a job so horrendous that I equate it  to Hercules’ cleansing of the Augean Stables. Hints and comments, ignored for years, have finally caught up with me, and here I am.

I have it on good authority that to properly organize a closet, one has to remove everything from said closet and pile it in a heap. Gritting my teeth, I carry large armfuls of clothing from the closet and toss it onto my bed. Soon the pile grows so high that articles begin to slither to the floor.

It has also been suggested by those fortunate ones for whom order comes easily that the resultant mess should be separated into three piles: (1) keep (because I love it), (2) undecided (because I like it, but….) and  (3) what possessed me to buy this in the first place?

Womanfully, I mark out uncluttered spots for these three piles, and at first, it isn’t so hard. A number of articles of clothing make it to the ‘undecided’ pile and a few malingerers land in #3. It’s also easy, at least at first, to pinpoint the clothes that I really use over and over, and which are earmarked to the ‘love’ pile. A piece of cake, I congratulate myself. Soon I will have the neatest closet on planet earth.

But then, things get dicey. Although I haven’t seen this dress in years, I remember that I wore it to my daughter in law’s bridal shower. What a lovely day that was, with May sunshine filtering through the windows, and friends and bridesmaids gathering around the bride-to-be. Twenty one years ago? Hardly possible, I think, as I gently fold the dress and place it on the ‘love’ pile. How could I not love that dress? How could I think of discarding it?

Next comes… ye gods, is it possible that I have kept this skirt for over fifty years? It was made for me while I was still single and still in school. Time and the vagaries of fashion have brought it—well, almost brought it—back into style, and the thing still fits. Who can get workmanship like this these days? French seams, I ask you! Where else could it go but on the ‘love’ pile?

All right—I confess it. I’m a memory junkie. Nor is my memory-hoarding confined to my closet. Fabric has the same effect, for each tiny piece reminds me of a project or suggests something that can be created in the future. Photograph doubles—taken long before ‘digital’ applied to taking photos—are stored in shoe boxes because to throw them away would never do. What, destroy this charming shot of then-small grandchildren doing gymnastics in the living room?  Supposing the originals got lost? And then there are books— but we really needn’t go there.

In my hoard are treasures. Here are the tiny hands of our boys, immortalized by a first grade teacher and caught forever in plaster, though what they are doing in my closet I will never know. Here is a scarf given to me by a forever friend.  And here is this silk blouse—my mother and I shopped for it together and later ate ice cream cones under lilac trees in full bloom.

Memories are stored

In this tiny scrap of silk…

Fragrance of lilacs.

Get real! I lecture myself. Other people should enjoy these things if I don’t use them. So, with a great effort of will, I force myself to sort and discard. I will never wear this again… I never could find anything to go with this… these pants don’t fit any more, so out they go.

But wait—I wore this shirt to go down to the hospital when our Alex was born. I was getting over a cold, then, and I couldn’t hold my littlest grand daughter, so I wrapped my arms around myself and pretended that I was hugging her. Surely, this shirt has dispensation to stay with me?

The pile of ‘loves’ has now grown so high that it has toppled over. It really is no use, and I admit defeat. Resignedly, I begin to move the largest heap back into the closet meanwhile telling myself that at least I’ve made a small dent. Perhaps another day I will once more tackle this closet full of memories!

Perhaps, in a year or so….









About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

6 responses »

  1. Hi Maureen,
    My mom has told me that when she was a child and her mother had her clean out closets and drawers, her instructions were to find at least one thing to give away or toss. So, if you accept that as your standard, you did very well indeed. Besides, If you didn’t treasure memories you’d be a writer with flat characters with no emotional impact. Accept yourself as “JUST RIGHT!”– cluttered closets and all.

    LInda A.

  2. Wonder of Wonders! You have titillated my usually submerged urge to clean out my belongings as well (and they constitute much more than mere clothing). Worst of all, there are 2 houses full of STUFF that begs to be reorganized and thinned out. At least I hear the hollering in my head to get to it posthaste. Well, now that I have admitted it, I will still have to wait until I move .the faves back to the primary household in a couple of weeks. Phew!! I thought I would have to begin the fearsome task tomorrow. What a relief! Another excuse for procrastination. You are a better woman than I. Do you think I could get credit for prodding our mutual friend who has more stuff than the two of us combined? Love Fran

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s