Freaks and Closet Geeks.
There are some things that are sacred to women: Chocolate. A pair of heels that fit perfectly and would never pinch, even if you walked 50 blocks in them. A perfectly made cocktail. Sleeping in on the weekends. Happy hour with your closest friends. How our mother will always be one of the first people we call with news. The four-letter words S-A-L-E and L-O-V-E. And closet space.
A few weekends ago, wading knee-deep in down from a comforter that’s apparently determined to molt in time for spring, the guy I’m seeing took one look at the floor in the corner of the room he normally puts his clothing in, and winced at the gathering tumbleweeds of feathers residing there. “Do you have someplace I can put my stuff where it won’t get down on it?” he asked, and I froze, like I was suddenly subject to the 10 degree weather outside. There was someplace he could put his things, but I really didn’t want to think about it. How could I tell him that my closet is like my personal kingdom, where I am ruler of all labels and ruling regent of all spatial reasoning, keeping the tank tops separate from the dressy shirts from the cardigans, without sounding like a total freak of nature?
In the end, I ended up pushing aside the hangers and clothes on the hanging rack so that he could have easy access to put his bag and jacket on the shelf underneath, but my clothes looked so forlorn, pushed to the side like unloved stepchildren. I’d like to blame what happened later on the fact that I was overtaken with thinking about my black mesh dress pressed up against my woolly Italian sweaters and getting pulled on by their fibers, but actually, there’s no excuse for what happened next.
Sometimes, we can all go a little bit crazy. As far as it may be from us, our past is still our past, and as much as we dislike to have it tarnish the golden views of our present or future, it sometimes does. I live in eternal fear of the One Reoccurring Theme of my dating history: That I am merely a placeholder until some thing or someone else better comes along…that while logic states I, an obsessive-compulsive, nymphomaniac, time-consuming, giving, impulse buyer of gifts, needer of needy men, should be more than enough for one man, but if there’s one thing my history has taught me, it’s that I am remarkably replaceable, and that I tend to be the entrée— there’s always an appetizer or dessert on the side.
But while I’ve served as the main course, it’s important to note that there’s a lot of things that I’ve never done before that I suddenly find being a “normal” part of my life: I’ve never had someone else’s toothbrush and towel residing in my bathroom, other than a roommate’s. I’ve never eaten out so often together or gone out as a couple. I’ve never slept as many consecutive nights with someone as I have been doing recently. Only one other man was ever even allowed into my house to stay overnight, and that was one time, so I understandably am not used to someone living with me nearly a third of the time. So you better believe I’ve never had reason, cause, or practice to give away a drawer or a shelf for a man to use as his own. The strangest part of all is, I actually really love all of it. (I seem to have come a Very Long Way since the girl who went through men in under one month like Brawny paper towels.) None of this actually feelsstrange until I take a mental step back, look at my current life, and assess the Big Picture. Which I did the other day, while simultaneously having a VERY spectacularly large fret about putting all my eggs in one basket and shirts on one shelf and worrying about the possibility of other women fucking my toothbrush-and-towel present reality over. And so I did something when the opportunity arose after he left that I’m not very proud of, at all, and took my last deep breath of sanity, and momentarily dove off the deep end. I freaked.
I knew it was wrong. I knew what I was doing was like stealing, or at very least, breaking and entering, even though the metaphorical doors were already unlocked for me and I didn’t touch anything; didn’t open any Pandora boxes. All I had to do was use the two eyes I was born with, but even that, I knew, was too much. I surfaced when I didn’t find anything that I seemed to be looking for— there were no illicit messages, no secret trysts set up, no whiffs of another woman’s perfume or lip gloss smudges. There was nothing of cause for concern. In fact, what I did find made me feel even worse than what I imagined finding something that I was looking for would make me feel: Instead, there I was, my name staring myself right in my face, not erased or replaced— the messages a sane women had written being saved by the man who was doing her right, as she let her inner freak flag fly postal. I felt worse about myself than I have in years. I vowed at that moment to lock the super-freak in me up in the closet and never let her out like that again.
As a silent mea culpa, I cleared away my tank top shelf and consolidated some of my hanging rack for his stuff in my closet —like he had asked for the other night— at 3 in the morning in a “retribution-for-my-wrongs” fit, all while mentally begging for forgiveness, and finally letting him, and trust, into my life…for real. I figure, in my world, giving him a part of my precious clothing space says “I’m sorry; and I’m showing it by proving I love you more than I love my tank top collection” far more than anything else I could ever say or do.
- From SATCG