“But Chad!” I called out to one of my roommates, “What if I have a daughter someday who wants to play prairie and says to me, ‘Mom, whatever happened to that skirt you used to play prairie in when you were a little kid?’” I stood in the center of my room, clinging to the skirt, surrounded by piles of my unfolded second thoughts.
“Hmm, I don’t know,” he dutifully replied, peeking in the door. “How many minutes to go-time?”
Chad in line. What a big help he was.
I started the week out with a big empty suitcase I deemed “purgatory” – and went through my closet with this new question in mind:
1. Would it be possible to trade this piece of clothing for something I would love more, that would fit me more perfectly, that would in style reflect who I am as a person more uniquely?
Not – “Do I need this shirt?” – but “Is it possible to imagine there is a shirt I could love more, and a person who could love this shirt more than I do?” I was reckless in my first round of paring down, knowing I’d go through “The Purg” one more time at the end of the week to be sure I wanted to make the trade.
The idea is, as Max explained to me, to leave at least 10-20% of the space in your closets, drawers, and bookshelves empty, to leave room for new ideas. Books yet to keep you awake with a flashlight at night, fabulous glittering star-leggings yet to be discovered and stretched into, big comfy T-shirts left to be slept in. Choosing to leave space in my closets makes room for the new without knowing what it will be yet.
Buffalo Exchange clerk hard at work on my clothes.
It was my first time selling at either of these thrift stores, and so I had a few things to learn – they only take the things they think they can re-sell, which fluctuates according to their inventory and the fashion of the moment. Also, they only take items of clothing in excellent condition. They give you a choice of around 30% cash, or 50% in store credit, to use at any time.
The outcome? $81.76 in combined store credit to spend when I’m ready to pick out some new things – and a still almost-full suitcase of rejects which they cheerfully offered to donate to a local charity. Not to mention, my drawers now open, and I can get out the door of my room without tripping.
And the prairie skirt? She stays, at least for the time being. After all, what if I have a kid who says to me, “Hey mom, I want to play urban sprawl, do you have anything I can wear?”
Sorry, Future Kid. You’re on your own for that one.
Rebecca "the winsome clutterer" Bea
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Now my drawers open!