I’m standing in my closet, looking for something to wear that’s not pajamas, leggings, or a combination of both. The comfy, lived in, just-got-out-of-bed look I’ve been rocking all day, every day since mid-March has become uninspiring. Ignoring the stacks of jeans, knowing the physical — not to mention emotional — struggle will be too real, I decide to branch out and shake things up: I am going to wear something that comes from a hanger.
I’m a bit dumbfounded when I see that hanging right in front of me — in prime closet location — are my winter clothes: the sweaters and cardigans I last wore in early March when the frigid temperature here in Minnesota was still predictable but life was anything but. Like the rest of my life, they’ve been stuck in the same place for almost six months.
I run my fingers over the long sleeves of my favorite robe-length cardigans, remembering how they loved going out to dinner with their best friends skinny jeans and sassy boots. Hello, old friends, I whisper. I’m sorry I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
I pull a soft wool sleeve to my cheek and close my eyes, hoping to still catch the smoky, fire-burning oven scent of my favorite restaurant, the place I most likely wore the sweater last. Instead, all I smell is dust and loneliness.
On the lower rack hang my stylish date-night jackets, the silky, lace-trimmed camisoles I wore under them that made me feel sexy, and the black leather jacket I bought and wore once to a P!NK concert that made me feel like an imposter, albeit an edgy one. They’re all hanging stock still, a museum of moments taken for granted.
I turn my attention to my warm weather clothes, still hanging on the off-season side of the closet. Usually by early May, these t-shirts and short-sleeved blouses have switched places with the sweaters, but this year they’ve been as forgotten as my early pandemic pledge to limit my wine consumption to weekends.
I spy the clothes I’d started setting aside to take on our March spring break trip only a few days before the bottom dropped out of our plans for the rest of 2020. Pulling out a cute black and white patterned jumpsuit, I remember my delight when I brought it home and crowed about its versatility.
“You can wear it with flip flops or strappy little heels,” I’d practically shouted to my husband. “And it doesn’t wrinkle! It’s the perfect vacation outfit! I’ll wear it all summer!”
I now grab the tag — still firmly attached — and tug it off, vowing to wear this magical piece of clothing this week while I sit on the couch searching for something to watch on Netflix.
I stop short when I see a flowered wrap dress I’d bought only days before we began quarantine. It fit perfectly, was a bit flirty, and because I don’t usually wear dresses, made me feel ultra-feminine.
“I had grand plans for you,” I tell it, pulling it out to admire the adorable cap sleeves. “Easter brunch, the theater, date nights, graduation parties … you were going places, my friend.”
I hold it up to me, wondering if it would still look as flirty after five months of Cheetos.
Leaving my closet of broken dreams, I move on to my bathroom, which at this point in the pandemic has basically turned into an orphanage. I swear I can hear my hair products and styling tools crying when I open the cabinet.
“Pick us!” they holler, as I bypass them to grab the dry shampoo for the fifth day in a row.
“No, seriously, you need us,” they beg. “We’ll give you hours of silky volume and curls that last all day!”
Their pleas are tempting, but I don’t have the energy to listen.
Ignoring them, I scrape my gummy hair into a messy ponytail — the 2020 version of the “Rachel” — and open my makeup drawer to stare at the colorful array of pots and tubes that have been neglected for months, having only been applied hastily 15 minutes before the occasional Zoom call. The lip-glosses, especially, are now basically rendered useless. I try to open one, but it’s turned to glue; the cap stuck on tight.
I don’t even pause at the tangle of necklaces, earrings, and beaded bracelets that have been entombed in my jewelry box for months. There’s only so much I can take.
Sighing, I return to the closet and grab one of my comfy sweater robes. The weather is already starting to turn chilly again here, so I’m happy that it’s hanging right in front of me.
Besides, it actually looks pretty cute with pajama pants.