As a writer, I have to know how to put words together to create meaning. As an editor, I have to know when to take words out to simplify meaning. One might think that as a writer and editor, I would also know how to apply addition and subtraction skills to other parts of life. But I don’t.
This weekend, I was bombarded by towers of laundry that were sorted into the categories of his, hers and theirs. Since a wave of stomach flu blew through (and hung over) our house, I had washed towels and sheets until they were as thin as tissue paper, but with the exception of pajamas and underwear, I hadn’t touched “real” clothes. On Sunday morning, I realized my day would be spent in the basement stain-sticking and folding apparel that would be tossed back in the basket after one wearing. But the process of doing laundry isn’t what bothered me. What made me mad is that I had bought too much stuff in the fall and winter. As a family, we had too much – in many ways – and it was time to put our habits on a diet.
Our habits? Perhaps I should say my habits. After all, I’m the one who does all the shopping. I buy all the clothes and shoes and articles in-between. I’m the one who can’t walk through the mall without buying something to justify the parking fee. Yes, I’m the one who has a problem: I’m a shopaholic.
With yet another load in the washer, I picked up the roll of clear plastic bags and headed for my closet. It was going to be a painful experience, but a necessary one. Metal hanger after padded hanger, I tossed clothes onto my bed into groups of sweaters, blouses, tops, pants, shirts, dresses, jackets and accessories. After an hour of sorting, I couldn’t see the headboard. But I could see dollar signs: So much wasted money.
I threw out all the smaller sizes that I couldn’t wear anymore and most likely wouldn’t fit into any time soon because I’m not disciplined at the moment. I tossed out the black funeral suit (I’ve worn it twice; that’s enough), the poinsettia cardigan (it was poisonous looking), the tennis skirts (I don’t even have a racquet), the brown turtlenecks (three of them — the exact same sweater), and the white Capri pants that had turned a nicotine-shade of yellow (enough said). I filled six bags with clothes that were either no longer my size or no longer flattering to my shape. Instantly, I felt lighter.
I’ve worked my tail off (in theory) for the past two years, so I’ve added pieces to my working mother wardrobe because I had to. However, it has become apparent to me that I did a lot of shopping not out of obligation to my profession, but out of boredom. But when did I have that much time to be that bored? What was going on with me that made shopping such a therapy? Such a fix?
Looking back, I had to have been going through some type of identity crisis. This was about the time I started trading cars – the sedan was replaced by the minivan; the minivan was replaced by the crossover; the crossover was replaced by the larger SUV. I didn’t know who I was, what I needed, or where I was going. I wasn’t secure in my decision making. It’s evident that I was struggling to figure out what my role was in life and obviously, how to dress for that occasion.
Tonight as I write this blog, I have a little more clarity…and at this very hour, a little more money. I don’t need to buy one more thing to illustrate what kind of life I have or what kind of mood I’m in. But what I need is to continue editing — next on the piles of shoes that are carelessly tossed into laundry baskets in the same closet. Who needs four pairs of black loafers? Fifteen pairs of flip-flops?
Maybe I’m finally putting a foot in the right direction.