The art of letting go

I’ve been doing spring cleaning since the first glimmer of warmth appeared in March. I started early because of my planned move in June. I’m going to be moving into a much smaller place, and I really don’t want to lug too much on that long, seven hour drive.

It started out with just small things. Going through my clothes and random things I’ve collected over the past five years in this apartment. It’s strange how much you can accumulate in a few years.

A few weeks later, I went through my clothes again. I tossed more clothes in a box to donate, then started going through my shoes. I boxed those up and then sorted through my purses. I ended up with two more boxes, and I felt exhausted. I knew I could definitely get rid of more, but I wasn’t ready for that yet.

Every few weeks, I would rummage through my clothes again. Eventually I’d fill up another box and drop it off, then start over with a new box. This week, though, I went through every closet and drawer in my bedroom. It was terrifying.

I had gone through my stuff again, and had two boxes packed up when a friend came over. He asked if I had gone through my dresser drawers, which I had sort of rummaged through. Then he asked about my armoire…which I hadn’t even touched. My lovely wooden armoire was a gift from my great aunt. She decided to give it to me, only if I promised to take care of it and keep the inside organized. It had recently become my place to stuff clothes that I couldn’t fit anywhere else. I think I had it organized two years ago..

My wonderful friend offered to go through all my clothes with me, starting with my closet. He would pull out a shirt or a dress and hold it up, asking if I wanted to keep it. If I said yes, he’d ask when I wore it last. If I couldn’t remember, he’d tell me to try it on. Sometimes he just gave me a look that said “We both know you’re never going to wear this again.” It was true. He knows me pretty well.

By the time we got to my dresser, I was more than willing to toss out my old clothes. We filled up another box and I was ready to call it a day. Before I could stop him, he opened my armoire. I sat on the floor and dramatically begged him not to touch it, claiming I’d go through it later. “We’re doing this now,” he said. A few minutes later he tossed a stack of shirts at me. “I don’t think you need twenty sleep shirts.”

I reluctantly sorted my shirts and pajamas, then moved on to the pants. I had gone through my jeans a while ago, so I figured it’d be pretty easy. I forgot about the stack of khakis I had stuffed behind my dress pants. He looked at the pile and said “You can keep one pair, even though you never wear khakis.” He was right. I hadn’t worn khakis since I had to wear them for work…five years ago. I tossed aside the work pants and decided to try on the two pairs that still looked decent.

That’s when it hit me. Those khaki pants were not going to fit. Just like the mini skirts and dresses I packed up. Just like the concert tees and tanks I used to wear. I wasn’t a twenty year old college student any more.

“None of these will fit,” I told him.

“Are you ok?” he asked. I folded up the rest of the clothes to donate.

“Yeah,” I replied. I looked at the pile of underwear I was tossing out and the four boxes stacked up. “I forgot how long I had some of this stuff. I graduated high school ten years ago. And college like 6 years ago. As weird as this sounds, I feel like my body has changed since then. This stuff doesn’t fit me like it used to.”

“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. He grabbed my hands and pulled me close to him. “You are still beautiful.”

I blushed. “I just never thought about it like that. It’s weird to realize that I’m not the same person I was when I wore that yellow skirt.” I sat down on the floor and took a deep breath. “I know they’re just clothes,” I shrugged. “But…”

“Sometimes it’s just hard to let go,” he finished. I nodded and fought back tears.

“I’m twenty eight. I’m not a college kid anymore. I know there’s no reason for me to be holding on to all that stuff,” I gestured to the boxes on the floor. “It’s just stressful to think about how much I’ve changed. I’m not ready to be so adult.”

“I know it’s hard,” he said kindly. “But look at what you’re doing now. Do you really want to go back to that goofy college kid I met back then? You’ve changed so much, but in the best way possible.”

“I feel like I’m very different,” I agreed. “I was thinking about the clothes that I’ve gotten this year, and I’m really excited about them. I have cute clothes for this summer that actually fit me. It’s a good feeling.”

I stayed on the floor for a while, feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff leaving my apartment and the sense of accomplishment that came with it. I know that things in my life need to change. It’s not like things are bad, it’s just time to try something different. A new state, a new address, a new balcony that doesn’t overlook a murky pond.

Thinking about making that big of change makes my chest hurt, but I know I need to just do it. I can’t keep holding on to things that I know I don’t need. From here on out, I only have space for the essentials. Including my cat.

Thanks for reading! I hope everyone else gets around to some spring cleaning. I promise you’ll feel better once you’re done.


About Jess

I'm just going to keep writing until I run out of words
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