Out of the closet and inside the box

How much closet space does anyone need? I’m inclined to believe that clothing and associated clutter is like gas molecules in an enclosed space – no matter how much room you create, it will fill every last square centimeter.


I don’t have a lot of closet space compared to the past (when I lived with my grandmother, my stuff filled three times the cupboard space I have now), so I store the clothing I don’t wear often in large plastic boxes under the bed. This morning, reflecting on how, with May looming, I needed to think about hauling my winter polonecks and leggings out of storage, I peered under the bed and was greeted by the alarming sight of a rapidly expanding dust bunny colony. Clumps of God knows fluttered in a faint breeze like tiny tumbleweeds in a miniature desert. Now seemed as good a time to sort this out as any, so while Patricia our helper swept and vacuumed, I rearranged the contents of my cupboard.


Ahem. I am not a tidy individual. Bouts of order grip me spasmodically every few months; I chuck out the contents of my closet, rearrange about half of them, run out of steam and then chuck the rest back. I was last overcome by this kind of urge some six months ago. I’d stocked up on winter leggings in New York, and now I classified everything according to whether it was likely to fit me in my last trimester. Loose flowing clothes with lots of room for expansion stayed where they were. Warm clothing with room for cetaceanesque expansion was classified “winter baby”. Everything else was “winter post baby” or “summer post baby”.


Of course, my proportions didn’t expand according to plan. One month into my third trimester, I was suddenly no longer pregnant. I never did get truly huge. So much of the clothing I’d packed went unworn, and because I was back down to my pre-pregnancy weight within ten days – something I never expected – I didn’t need the clothes I’d put aside to accommodate my changing form.


So, out came some of the clothes from “Summer post baby – size 12” and back into the cupboard. And yes, I do feel a strange sense of loss. Women tell me that I was lucky that I never had to go through the final stages of pregnancy, but I feel… cheated. Just a little. An important aspect of the pregnancy experience was denied to me. Yes, it would have been uncomfortable, but it would also have been a rite of passage (nothing important ever happens without inconvenience). Now I can barely remember having been pregnant.


Apart from the large winter leggings I bought from a pharmacy in New York, I never actually stocked up on new clothing for the last stretch. Everything was repurposed, depending on whether it looked like it might fit. The clothes for what might have been remain in their plastic box, under the bed, waiting for the weather to get cold.

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