Nina In New York: The Great Purge
A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
Much as I resent the oppressive and dictatorial nature of New Year’s Resolutions, I could never get on board with spring cleaning. Why spring? Why does it only happen once a year? I’d much prefer to purge when the mood strikes me, which is typically when I’m attempting to complete a minor task like dusting a shelf or refolding some tops. I wind up falling deep down a rabbit hole in which I become thoroughly absorbed in organizing my old photographs in chronological order or arranging my t-shirt drawer according to Roy G. Biv. Inevitably, I create a mountainous mess and lose interest before I’ve finished what has now become an insurmountably ambitious project.
But not this week!
This week I said “no” to an over-stuffed closet and a bureau groaning with the weight of all the crap that won’t fit in the aforementioned closet. No to drawers snapping off their tracks! No to sifting through clothing I haven’t worn since two sizes ago and no to using the top of our radiator as extra shelving! I was mainly inspired to take on this beast by about twelve hangers which I bought at Target six months ago. They are “huggable” hangers, which apparently prevent all sorts of slippage and take up minimal space in one’s tiny apartment storage. I’ve been reserving them for only my most favorite pieces, treating them like special guests in my otherwise mangled, cyclonic closet. Finally, I had the brilliant idea to go buy more at my nearby Bed Bath & Beyond, which is apparently the same idea everyone else on the planet had, too. The hangers were on display in at least two gigantic arrangements around the store. Seriously, they were everywhere. This happens to me pretty often—I think that I want something and it turns out everyone on the planet is already buying and promoting it. I must be much more susceptible to subliminal advertising than I realize. Did you know the hangers have hooks so you can hang your hangers on other hangers? Brilliant! I’ll take 700.
Anyway, armed with a box of exciting new hangers, I took to my wardrobe with a cold, merciless eye. No longer would I look at a dress I haven’t worn in five years and say, “Well, I could probably still make this work.” Out! Items that were “perfectly good” but which I had not touched other than to move it from apartment to apartment: out! Skirts that I’d “mended” with carefully-hidden safety pins: out! As I tore through and the pile of giveaways grew larger and larger, I began to notice the incredible array of sizing contained in one single drawer. Some of this is due to inconsistencies across stores and brands, but I also apparently like to hold onto clothing which does not fit me. Or, it could fit me one day. I mean, what if I’m having a fat day? What if I lose fourteen pounds? What if I lose six pounds? What if I gain two pounds but only in my butt? Of course, my weight has never fluctuated much outside a ten pound radius but anything could happen! I realized that aside from wasting valuable closet space, this attitude was probably less than healthy. So I compromised with myself and saved only the items which fit me now, as well as the very smallest garments, which I mainly cling to as trophies of skinniness and emblems of hope. At some point I may just have to frame them and hang them around my bedroom (and kitchen).
Of course, I didn’t finish. Before it’s all over, I am definitely going to wind up buying a million more hangers and organizers and shoe trees and purse bins and hat hooks and whatever other nonsense BB&B has seen fit to subtly force upon me. I don’t care. I’m hooked (get it?). Purging feels fantastic and I aspire to stay organized for at least… two months. Baby steps.
More importantly, I am thrilled to be able to donate lots of clothing in fine condition for women of all shapes and sizes. Except zero. The zeros I will keep forever.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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