This is the first essay in our week-long “Declutter Your Life” series. We asked different writers about what it means to get rid of the physical, psychic or emotional clutter in their lives. Here are their stories.
I’m moving in a month.
I open my dresser drawers to look at all the clothes I have folded in there. There’s a red lace top that I bought when I was fifteen. The leggings I got on my first trip by myself to Montreal. The dress with the words ‘racer girl’ across the back, a totally random and amazing thrift store find.
My style is my own; unique and bizarre. I love bright colours and odd finds. I hold on to my clothes because they are special to me. I hold on to them because they are like rare gems; no one else is wearing this. I hold on to them because they remind me of old lovers, old partners, years when I was so unhappy, years when I was brave.
I survey the clothes. Now, I wear less than 25 per cent of this stuff. There are the skirts I got on sale that are totally cute but I never really wear. There’s the endless supply of neon leggings which have acquired tears or have become faded with washing. There are the clothes that are too small or too big for me now, as my weight has fluctuated. There are the clothes that just aren’t my style, from times when I was trying to be someone else.
There are my court clothes. Professional, plain black pants and sweaters. Things I would never ever wear in real life. I hold on to them out of fear that I will have to go back to court again one day. I don’t want to have to spend money on such boring clothes again.
There’s the little blue dress I used to wear when I was seventeen. It barely fit me even then but I loved the way my curves spilled out it. I remember getting drunk in that dress, throwing up in that dress.
There’s the romper I used to wear everywhere, my favourite piece of clothing for years. I wore it to the Guns N’ Roses concert when we ended up on the tour bus but we didn’t meet Axl Rose. I wore it to the pro-choice rally with my sister. I wore it that night I was sexually assaulted while sharing a tent with this guy I had just met.
Each piece of clothing holds so much weight, memories both good and bad that I don’t want to let go of. Each piece of clothing holds the potential for new futures, new times when maybe I will look cute wearing that. There are pieces of clothing that I just can’t imagine letting go of. They are my femme legacy, my language of glitter and lace, my brazen fashion sense.
And yet, there is no room in my dresser for new finds, for new pieces yet to be marked with memories. All these clothes superimpose my past onto my present and I am yearning for a fresh start. I want to get ready in the morning without rummaging through all these years.
My life is different now.
I am over two years sober. I no longer romanticize the drunken alcoholic years of endless consumption and days spent throwing up. I no longer define myself through those memories. I am a different person today.
So I fill four garbage bags with clothes. I bring the court clothes to a shelter for women survivors of violence, where they provide women with clothes suitable for job interviews. The rest I bring to a queer clothing swap. I watch all these beautiful people trying on my clothes which they grab from the mutual pile we created. I watch them laugh and say to each other “what do you think?”
It makes me sad to let go of them but it feels right. It makes me happy to see someone else starting a new story with them, leaving my history with them to my memories. I go through the pile and find a few things myself. I bring the new finds home and place them in my drawers which still have plenty of space for new beginnings.
Clementine Morrigan is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, zinester, poet, essayist, facilitator and community organizer. Her first book, Rupture, was published in 2012. She produced a short film entitled Resurrection in 2013. She writes a zine called seawitch and also works on other zine projects.