Alison was my girlfriend and a style therapist who was sick of looking at my closet. I never thought about my closet as being an eyesore or affecting the way people saw me.
Closets were no laughing matter to Alison. She didn’t help people who weren’t a hundred percent motivated. “Are you ready?” she asked point blank.
“Of course I’m ready,” I said reluctantly.
“It won't be easy,” she said. "People have a hard time deciding what to keep and what to throw out. They become emotionally attached to their clothing.”
“You don’t have to worry about me,” I said. “I was born flexible.”
But Alison knew better. She told me to remove everything from the closet and throw it on the bed.
The first thing she noticed was that I had ten pairs of sweatpants.
“Which ones do you wear most often?” she asked.
“The black Adidas,” I said with certainty.
She gathered the sweatpants I didn’t wear and tossed them into the donation pile.
I wanted to shout: “No! Those other ones are too precious.” But I realized that would have sounded stupid.
Alison noticed my fretful look. “If you don’t wear them, why keep it in your closet? They’re just sweatpants. They’re not people that you love.”
Pretty soon, I had a massive pile of clothes to give away. We rearranged the closet by colors, packed away the winter clothing, and neatly stacked the shoes onto a chrome rack.
As I placed the donation pile into a large garbage bag for Goodwill, a flood of emotions hit me when I came across an old pair of hi-top Converse sneakers. They had holes in the soles and frayed edges, but I loved wearing them. Putting them in the trash bag made me feel guilty.
“Clothes are not keepsakes,” said Alison. “You can get a new pair of Converse, ones with a more updated style."
I couldn’t do it. Memories of the black hi-tops flooded my mind. I wore them with torn-off jeans and carpenter pants. I sloshed around with them in the snow. I loved scribbling on the white parts.
Alison shook me out of my reverie. “Take a look at your closet and see what I’ve done.”
Like a Van Gogh painting, my closet was perfectly arranged. It was neat, streamlined and colorful. It only contained clothes that I liked to wear and that fit my personality.
I took a deep breath.
I closed my eyes and dropped the Converse sneakers into the large garbage bag.