You’ve always been one of those people with a bursting closet. There’s never been enough space to contain the things you’ve accumulated over the years so sweaters end up in Tupperware containers and you always have one suitcase that’s never technically unpacked. You joke that your heaping laundry basket is just more storage and never seem to have enough hangers so things end up in places clothing was never intended to be.
Then you’ll move, make a change to your hair color, sever ties with a boy, do something that just makes you feel like purging. If you’re lucky enough and the tags haven’t even come off you can return it with a shrug and an excuse of buyers remorse. But more likely than not you’ll haul bags to consignment, GoodWill, text friends, “would you wear this” really only to make room for more clothes to represent a new time in your life. It may seem like you’re being practical and doing “what needs to be done”, but there almost always have been and probably always will be ulterior motives.
When you give away your clothes you’re saying, “this no longer represents who I am”. The numerous t-shirts with cartoons on the front aren’t something that should be worn by an adult with a downtown apartment, so you stuff them into a bag for the thrift store and leave them behind. The cashmere cardigan makes you feel twenty years older and resent the fact that you had to grow up in the first place, so you cringe while taking $30 dollars for it and go to happy hour crossing your fingers that you get carded. You say you’re cleaning house, downsizing, but you’re getting rid of the things that don’t fit the person who you want to be to make space for the jeans that make you feel amazing.
When you give away your clothes you’re saying, “these are memories I don’t want anymore.” You only wore that oversized sweater on the night you had a terrible one-night-stand where you cried after he finally passed out, so you give it to a friend who would never make that mistake. The cutouts on a dress show a tattoo you never should have gotten in the first place, so you give it to a girl who wants everyone to see the poetry etched along her side. The zipper on another was only ever undone by someone who broke your heart, so you give it to someone who seems to be unbreakable. You pass along things that feel tainted to you to give someone else the opportunity to breathe new life into them.
When you give away your clothes sometimes it can just be that, but most of the time it’s giving away a part of yourself. You’re saying:
“Here is this nostalgia. And I don’t want it anymore.”
You don’t want to struggle to zip something from a time when your thighs were smaller, a time when you worried more about curfew than calories. You don’t want to see the stain from when a boy you used to kiss sloshed Kahlua all over your shoulder and you laughed until the sun came up. You don’t want to have to say, “It’s the bridesmaids dress from my ex-best friend’s wedding.” You’re tired of explaining, tired of frowning when you pass them in the closet every morning so you give them away.
You out with the old for the in with the new and you promise yourself that this year will be better, this time will be better, you will be better. And you scour the racks for new things to make new memories with, for new things to eventually either keep forever or eventually say goodbye to when they become to painful to wear.