Memories, generations of clothes and junk come out of the closets


May 17, 1994|By MAUREEN RICE

Every house has areas that are haunted.

Ghosts may or may not live there, but strange objects accumulate in these places.

In my son's room lives the collector of dying balloons.

We call it the balloon graveyard, because every leaking balloon eventually comes to rest in that corner near his desk.

It makes vacuuming his room an adventure; these once-vibrant toys are always lurking, waiting for my unwary swipe, to explode in the nozzle and scare me out of my skin.

My daughter's room houses the paper collector.

Beneath her bed, buried in drawers, sometimes even under her pillow, lie wrapping papers from long forgotten Christmas gifts, yellowed drawings, even comics pages.

Despite all my efforts, it is all there each week when I clean her room.

My closet is home for the junk collector, and this sprite makes appearances at varied intervals in every closet in the house.

Sometimes you just have to exorcise the ghosts and clean it all out.

For me cleaning the closets ranks with eating worms on my list of favorite things to do.

Back in the golden days of Greek civilization, you could hire Hercules to do it for you, and he would divert a river to accomplish the task, thereby washing the detritus of years out to sea where no one would ever know that you had allowed it to accumulate.

We in the 20th century have no such luck.

There are, however, books that will tell you, in exhausting detail, just exactly what you should throw away and how to organize what you keep.

These books (I have at times done my best to read them, feeling that research is definitely necessary for this gargantuan task) simply don't take into account the emotional ties we have to clothing that used to fit and, if we could get into great shape, will fit again.

Which of us would rather keep the larger size clothing purchased since the children were born?

There does come a time, however, when the awful chore simpl cannot be put off any longer.

There comes a day when you can't get a hanger off the rack simply because there isn't room to fit your hand in.

Or perhaps the entire structure collapsed under the weight of its load.

Don't laugh.

This did happen to someone I know.

Actually, it collapsed when its owner was in the process of clearing out the old clothing.

I think for years the clothes were holding up the structure with sheer pressure, and when any slack was available the rack was incapable of holding up the weight of what was left.

Perhaps it is the memory of the scene of the collapsed rack that keeps me honest, but I started on my closets the other day.

In my son's closet I found some of the socks that I had previously assumed to be the victim of my hungry washing machine, which eats and later regurgitates socks according to some circadian rhythm none of us will ever understand.

In my daughter's closet I found an amazing array of wrapping papers hiding under her baby books, proof that the paper sprite is inventive in its choice of hiding places.

In my closet I found a gold mine.

I had not only my own clothes, which will never fit me again, but several of my mother's, which were given to me after she cleaned her closets on the slender hope that I might be able to wear them someday.

I did the right thing.

I gave my old clothes to Goodwill.

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