fredag, juni 09, 2006

Closet Reorganization and Travel Packing

Closets disable me. Most of what I own ends up on the floor as I switch and stress. Suitcases mean packing for a trip, which means knowing what to wear ahead of time, which means stress in a box on wheels. For about a decade I got around just fine in a backpack and lived in cubicles. Suddenly, having more meant losing perspective.

So I decided to confront the issues. Issue #1. My closet is small and must hold everything. My stone basement invites mold. Small animals take up summer residence in the attic. So the unseasonable goes into zipper cloth boxes that rest on skinny shelves at overhead arm-length high. Twice a year I pull them down, pull out and go "aaauuuuuwww," as if I had found long lost friends or a bundle of cute bunnies. Actually, either event would make me scream, but the transfer is a little like getting new clothes in highly acceptable economic terms. This still didn't keep everything off the floor or flung over a rod.

Did I need a closet therapist at $450 for every organizational hour needed to fold and hang? It didn't matter if I needed them. I'd never even get them in the front door. My labels are not statusy enough. How about the multiple zeros it would cost me for a closet s-y-s-t-e-m for my space. The system I had been using was turning off the light and closing the door. I could afford that system.

In my searching I found a Closet Carousel. For money, my 5' x 6' space could look like a drycleaners. Or wire structures, just like the surrogate mother monkey experiments. I found more attractive closet shelving units, but who was I kidding. It wasn't so much the closet itself that was the problem. It was the living tornado who could never find the right thing to wear and then reuse a hanger in the process. These systems must have been designed by the clever marketers who knew that sloppy, busy, distracted, unfocused, harrassed people such as I would embrace the delusion that the problem wasn't with my habits. The problem was my closet.


Next, I considered, briefly, the prospect of having multiples of the same outfit. Find something good and stick with it, like the Jeff Goldblum character in The Fly. Make people pay attention to me and not what I am wearing.


So then I came up with something a little easier: Own less.

1. If its not worn in a year, gone.
2. If it at best looks "fine", gone.
3. Of what remains there should be only four high end pretty dresses, two pair of jeans, two pairs of some hip pant, three skirts, three pairs of shorts, six tops and four tees.
4. Add to this only what my job, sports, and severe weather may require, but keep it light.
5. Wear the same thing a lot.

I found Number 5 to be the most crucial. There is never any downside to rewear if it looks great, and once the item is worn past its prime, I can justify buying something new.

Now that is real simple.

Unfortunately, I did not have the same luck with figuring out how to pack for a trip. I tried to always take as little as possible, feeling bohemian and worthy. I read an article once where the owner of some big important company felt that he could only fall in love with someone he happend upon in an airport traveling with only a small carry on. I wanted to be that person.

Then the brick hit my head and I decided to get real and I figured out that that guy was a shallow own-everything who buys whatever he needs once he gets to his destination. He does not, I was fairly certain, have three daughters, a goldfish, and a lawnmower with his fingerprints all over it. Still, I tried to pack light and all it got me was feeling invisible. I knew that I was going to have to learn to take more.

"You're right," my friend said to me, after a family vacation. I had warned her of what I was discovering: What you think you will wear, you won't. Something about the weather, the location, the scenery, the event, the people you will end up being surrounded by - all variables more beyond your control than you think - will impact on what you ultimately pull out of the hotel dresser.

I was also finding that the older I got, the more important it was to be less practical and more inspired. One trip advisor in a fashion magazine said, "I always pack a pair of bermuda shorts, a pair of smart shoes, a pair of heels, a designer sweater, and a few polos. The heels allowed the outfit to go from day to evening" Yeah, ok, but what if you want sex on the trip? I mean, I don't want to look together and boring and unapproachable, anywhere.

So on the road, more was more. Not steamship luggage more, but more.

For some reason, this really bothers me, but too bad. I have tried it on my last two trips and I avoided the family nanny/tourist syndrome. I felt more like I actually lived in whatever city was my destination, and that was kind of cool. (Although maybe not such a desired result in Orlando, but there are always exceptions.)