I hate to lose control. I can’t stand not being able to make my own decisions, think for myself, control my own life. And so at these times when I feel like I’m losing control, there are two things I find myself doing: cooking and cleaning. (I’m quite the feminist, aren’t I?) It may not make much sense, my enjoyment for domestic chores over other seemingly relaxing activities like taking a bath or watching TV, but my type A-ness forces me to be productive. And yes, I enjoy my productivity. There’s something about making a change, creating something better, which feels better than sipping a warm cup of cocoa out of a shiny I ♥ NY mug.
Earlier this week, I found myself unsure. I found myself unable to control my life, and therefore, my incessant need for power led me to tidy up the pink paradise I call my bedroom. I stacked old voice lesson tapes neatly into shoe boxes, matched orphaned socks with their pairs, emptied my clothes drawers and swiped them clean with purple Windex spritzes. Eventually, I made my way over to the closets. And as much as I dreaded organizing the tangled mess into which most of my shirts had evolved, I could not wait to discover the hidden joys mangled within heaps of middle school Abercrombie tops and ancient Gap floral button up blouses. And I’ll admit it: I was more excited to conquer that closet than I was for anything else all week.
And so I embarked on my journey, trying on shirt after shirt, watching as each one barely covered my belly button, I remembered a story behind each top. I made flawlessly folded piles of shirts on my floor—shirts that had been to my first school dance, shirts bought out of pity from my parents when something didn’t go my way, shirts I bought with hard earned babysitting money because I knew my parents would never purchase a top for me that said “If you can’t be nice, look nice” or “Look at me!” (I cannot believe I actually wore these things at some point…)
As my rainbow of shirts (okay, yes, they are, and have always been, in color coordinated order) thinned out on the top rack of my closet and the sea of piles thickened greatly on my floor, I began to wonder, would my life be completely different had I not purchased all these clothes? If I had worried more about other aspects of my life as much as what I wore, would my life today be entirely unlike the one I have today? It sounds like a sappy poster hanging in a classroom, yet I truly wonder if my obsession with clothing had not been so intense, how would I be different?
I try not to judge people on what they wear. I am not friends with someone based on whether or not their jeans cost over two hundred dollars or if their tops are layered in the right way and purchased from the right brand. None of that matters to me. So why do I put so much emphasis on myself and what I wear? My guilt built up as I watched Juicy Couture, Lacoste, and countless other labels create a sea of insignificance on my grey carpet—all the time and money and thought spent could have been put to much better use.
Ultimately, the piles became two full trash bags, which I took to two local resale shops. I imagine the girls who will purchase my clothes; will they buy them for how they look or just for the label sewn inside? The woman at the consignment store says to my mother and me as we set down the bag, “You have a beautiful daughter, never disown her.” Although the idea seemed ridiculous yet not too distant, I’m pretty sure the woman never really looked up at me. I felt good knowing I had done something to help other people, and knew that the beauty she was talking about was not my appearance but my attitude.
As I relax in my immaculately organized room, with just a few coffee table books scattered out of place by my bed (Frida Kahlo, Man Ray, and Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell never fail as late night reading) I can finally enjoy the place in which I spend the most time. I can blame myself for being type-A all I want, but I know that without my fastidious, maybe even demanding, qualities, I would not be myself. I would not make cauliflower puree at 11:30 at night because I wanted to relieve stress, nor would excessively clean out my room to make myself feel better. And without all this, what else would I do?