The Things That Really Matter

Closet space.  Is there ever enough of it?  There were next to no closets in our Victorian house.  We purchased three armoires from Myrtle’s Mess for the bedrooms, and crammed them so full the doors would barely close. (John’s enormous oak armoire is one of three pieces of furniture salvaged from the fire.)
So we were excited when we moved into what the kids now call “the burnt down house” to distinguish it from “the old house” and “our first house.”  I had a walk-in (or at least “step-in”) closet and John appropriated the closet in the office for his clothes.  (Teddy still had to use the armoire, which is why it was in the basement and survived the flames; the other two were stored in the garage.)
And we crammed those closets full.  Mine had clothes in several sizes, even some things that were twenty years old.  Some I hoped to wear again one day, some had purely sentimental value.  There were old pocketbooks, and scarves, and lots of shoes.   And of course I had a dresser crammed full of socks and underwear and t-shirts.  And an overflowing laundry basket with the clothes I wore most of the time, which never seemed to get put away.
It sounds strange to say that the timing of Grandma’s death was a blessing, but it was.  Not only did it probably save our lives, since we were all out of the house when it exploded into flames, but it meant that we all had several days’ worth of clothes with us (and our computers!).  The clothes I took to Baltimore (and wouldn’t you know I had tried to pack as light as possible) were all that I had.
It didn’t take long before our kids had more clothes than we knew what to do with.  Family had already started buying things for Jake and Teddy before John and I and the little kids made it back to Knoxville.  Donations poured in from near and far on a daily basis.  Lorelei ended up with a wardrobe fit for a little princess.
John did not do badly either.  Thanks to my cousin Melissa, who works in a medical practice, he ended up with a closet full of doctors’ dress clothes (which are pretty much the same as attorneys’ dress clothes!).  She also gave took him on a shopping trip in Uncle Charlie‘s closet.  He did have to buy a couple of new suits, but he soon had more clothes than he started with!
I had a harder time.  Much of what was donated either did not fit or did not suit me.  And although I had some gift cards, beyond replacing absolute necessities I never seemed to make the time to shop.
When we went to look at houses to rent, realtors would talk up the storage aspect and I would just laugh, because we had nothing left to store.  Our new house sports a walk-in closet so big you could hang out in it (and in fact sometimes I do read in there at night!).  Until my last trip to Walmart (when I added about three outfits) this is what my side of the closet looked like:

I have a dresser that actually has EMPTY DRAWERS.  I don’t own enough underwear to make it through the week.
Now this is not a pity-party or an attempt to solicit gift cards.  🙂  I held onto a Christmas gift card for several months before I finally went shopping.  The point is that I have been trying to sort out in my own head what I have learned in the past year, what it all means.  Because if something like that happens to you and you don’t at least get some wisdom from it, that would really suck, right?
So one thing I am learning is what THINGS (in the literal sense of the word) matter to me.  And clearly clothes don’t rank high on that list.  It’s probably no surprise to anyone to find out what does, what I already have more of than I can use, what I accumulate more of weekly.

0 thoughts on “The Things That Really Matter

  1. Jane

    One word. Kindle. The person who invented this gadget should receive the Nobel prize for being the most totally awesome individual ever.
    Wait. Don’t poo-poo it until you hear me out. I was also electronic-resistant. I’ve got boxes upon boxes of books in the basement and knew that there was no way I’d want anything that would change the way I read. But, it started to get cumberson with all of my travel. If I were gone a week, I’d need at least 7 books. Try packing 7 books in your carry-on, including the items that I actually needed. I’d end up with an extra bag from the get-go, or not enough room coming home because I’d acquired a book or two. Then, there’s the issue of space. Books take up a lot of real estate and I have a larger than normal house. It piles up. Quickly. And people somehow think if you like books, they should “gift” you with all of their hand-me-downs. Regardless of the book.
    So Scott started to hint strongly at perhaps getting a Kindle. I continued to refuse. Finally, I relented and figured I might use it once or twice. Turns out, it is one of the top 10 best things that’s ever happened to me. I have hundreds of books on the Kindle. If I want to make space, I can archive old books that can be pulled back in at any time. Wherever I am – home, some random state or even overseas – I can download a book on either wi-fi or 3G. Instantly. It’s small enough to fit in my purse and I can whip it out anytime I want to read. It always saves my place without mutilating a page or having to spend money for the most useless thing ever sold – a paper bookmark. Even better, I can read my book on my iphone, my ipad and my android tablet. It’s a book that can be with you at all times. Even in your pocket.
    And for those global-warming folks, just consider for a moment of how it helps our environment. Trees are free to live happily in the woods instead of being chopped down in the name of Barnes & Noble. It’s a win-win for everyone.
    Just think about it. It is life-altering in a wonderful and freeing way.

  2. Oh, Leslie – I am so sorry you and your family had to go through this. I can imagine that it would take a long time to process such a tragic experience and loss, and I’m so glad none of you were around, when the fire occurred!
    I love that books have always had such an importance for you – I feel the same way about them. I think books make a home homey and they are so comforting – on many levels. By the way: your closet looks very similar to mine right now – I’ve been trying to create a “happier” closet by getting rid of all the clothes I don’t wear/don’t enjoy wearing (which hasn’t left much). And like you: I enjoy clothes shopping far less, than browsing bookstores!

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