I have always been a girl who can appreciate a well-designed outfit. In our two years of marriage, my husband has been appalled daily by the amount of clothes my closet contains. I also have trouble getting rid of clothes; therefore, I am buying new hangers fairly regularly. Sure, there are shirts in my closet that I haven’t worn for three years, but I am certain I will need one the second I get rid of it. It’s a sickness, and I can admit that. Christmas always makes me realize how spoiled I am and how many “things” I have, so I tend to adopt a minimalist attitude after the holidays. Therefore, earlier this week, I attempted to clean out my closet for the second time this year. If you could see my closet, you would understand my story.
You would see a torn pair of capris, frayed at the bottom with paint stains, I have had since 7th grade. This would tell you that I haven’t grown since 7th grade. You would see a handmade Renaissance dress tucked away in the back, telling you that college was useless unless I had a killer Halloween costume. You would see seven bridesmaid dresses, telling you that friendships are everything to me. You would see a veil, lined with sequins, and torn slightly, telling you of my wedding, and the blizzard that almost tore apart more than just my veil. You would see a business suit, in perfect condition, worn only once. This would tell you of my one and only interview for a teaching job, when I sweat and played with my hands, praying I would answer their questions just right. If you could see my closet, you would understand my story.
You would see jeans from Vanity, a store I haven’t stepped foot in since I was a teenager, as thin as paper folded up and forgotten on the top shelf. The bell bottoms remind me that, as a teenager, my jeans were not to be worn unless the flare at the bottom covered up my entire foot. These jeans have two holes. One of these holes appeared when they were relatively new and I hopped a fence in the State Fair pig barn to break up a pig fight. Below that hole you would see a red splatter that appeared during hunting season when I demoted this pair to wear while hunting (the last leg of a jeans’ life). Below that, you would see a gaping hole, big enough for me to fit my entire leg through, which occurred naturally through years and years of wear. If you could see my closet, you would understand my story.
You would see a decade worth of t-shirts, telling the story of my running career. They begin in 2003 with my 7th grade cross country season and end with my first year of teaching, when I coached the grueling sport. Many of them are pink and reference the strongest woman I have ever known, taken too soon by cancer. Many say top 10 or top 20, the only evidence I have pointing to my high school “glory days.” Most are discolored due to years of mud splatter and grass stains; however, it has been years since they have seen any sort of asphalt action as they now serve only as my pajamas. If you could see my closet, you would understand my story.
You would see countless pairs of dress pants, pencil skirts, and high-collared shirts– nylons and dress socks, which fit snuggly into my vast collection of high heels. This would tell you of who I used to be when I would stand in front of 100 students a day, desperately trying to impress something, anything into their minds. The high heels would tell you of my determined search to find clothing that said, “I am the teacher,” not, “I am a student” since all of my students towered above me. This was the type of clothing that would stop me dead in my tracks in the middle of JCPenney, unable to picture my life without that particular pencil skirt. Vying to whomever I was with that day, I would be a better teacher if I had that skirt. Professional clothing always had some sort of hold on me, although now, it is never touched. If you could see my closet, you would understand my story.
You would see a small collection of maternity clothes, worn out from their weekly outings. This would tell you the reason I no longer have a need for pencil skirts and high heels. This would tell you of the hardest and most painful, yet the most thrilling time in my life, when my food would not stay down and my belly would not stay tucked away and my shoes no longer fit. This would tell you of an adventure when I laid awake at night dreaming of who my son would be. If you could see my closet, you would understand my story.
You would see half my collection of simple sweaters and worn jeans, as the other half would be in the wash. This would tell you of who I am now. A mom, who still likes to look nice, but doesn’t really have a need for it. A mom, who many times, doesn’t even have time to put her clothes on because her son always arouses from a nap when she is in the shower, jolting her out of relaxation as soon as the water shuts off. Most of this clothing collection is fraying at the shoulders where my son has tried out his new teeth. Most of it is dingy and colorless because I can only wear it once before the poop, puke, or food needs to be washed out of it. If you could see my closet, you would understand my story.
It is the story of a life of constant change and no regrets. It is the story of a woman who follows God and always wants more. It is the story of a woman who used to be a girl, in her converse shoes and plaid hats. It is my story.