Green: Out of the closet


I hate my closet.

I discovered long ago that I wasn’t good at closets. That realization came when, at age 4, my family noticed a strong, foul odor coming from my room. I noticed nothing; I suppose the stench was like a slow boil and I was the frog—it came on so gradually it became comfortable. After weeks of searching every nook and cranny in my room, my mother found the culprit, buried beneath scores of baby dolls, building blocks, and Barbie clothes: Easter eggs. Not the plastic ones, but the actual hard-boiled, colorfully dyed kind. I loved them so much I wanted to save them, so into the abyss they went.

Renae Green column

It was July.

Though I have learned not to store perishable food items there, that’s about the only progress I’ve made toward being a competent closeteer. If you’re one of those people whose closet looks like the Taj Mahal of storerooms, just move along. This article is not for you at all because you won’t understand.

This confession is for those who dutifully haul bags of unworn, tags-still-on clothing to charity once a year because it’s either that or move, and you can’t afford the down payment on a new home. It’s for those who have taken parkour off the streets and into the more dangerous zones of unused Christmas gifts, mounds of mismatched shoes, and piles of purses filled with forgotten receipts and empty Altoids boxes.

It’s time to come out of the closet. Literally, because I can barely fit in there.

I’ve tried to get help, time and again. I remember at age 16, staring in awe into my friend Robin’s closet with her neatly stacked, labeled shoe boxes and color-coordinated hangers. I recall at age 32, my friend Eileen standing in my bedroom with me, going through dresses I hadn’t worn since seventh grade but was saving just in case I ever fit into them again. I once even paid a professional organizer to fix me. But the fix is always temporary. Like those last ten (OK, 20) pounds that always come back no matter how many diets you try, my closet clutter is a part of me.

I’d say it’s genetic, except my mother’s closets are neat as a pin. I don’t know what ‘s wrong with me. It’s a disease, I tell you. And judging from the number of times I’ve twisted my ankle trying to hike my way up Mount Washmore, it could be deadly.

And the perils are contagious! Though I’m married to Superman, who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, even he has trouble scaling the heights of chaos and confusion that I cause in that little room. If one of us ever goes missing, just direct the 911 operator and an excavation crew to my closet.

But I refuse to give up hope. Today, I’m going in there, headlamp on, pickaxe in hand. I will survive. I will prevail.

I will remove cartons and containers of things I probably won’t even miss. I will stack shoes, sort sweaters, and neatly sling scarves into color-coordinated cubbies. The valleys will be raised, the mountains made low, and the rough places will be made smooth. And at the appointed time, I will emerge from my hole like a groundhog seeking its shadow. Only, instead of six more weeks ‘til spring, I’ll have maybe four weeks of clean.

“Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain,” Isaiah 40:4.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com