ode to a custom closet

In a few days, the closet I’ve lived with for the past ten years will be gone. I’m having it gutted to make way for a custom wardrobe from California Closets. Really, this is something I should have done years ago, as my closet is in less-than-ideal shape. Door screws are missing, the basket drawers don’t slide easily, the wood is discolored on the sides and shoe racks. That entire corner of my home needs a good refresh. But today, I just didn’t want to see it go. I stood in front of the floor-to-ceiling wardrobe, the light above being the only one on in the house, both doors as wide open as my heart. It glowed bright and spoke to me, making me feel like I was saying goodbye to an old friend. It’d be the last time I see those doors, knowing they might not be the prettiest, but they were mine all the same. They represented me. They’re in my apartment after all. And this spot I own in Manhattan holds the key to many a door deep within.

I don’t know how much you know about New York City real estate, but my building is a pre-war building. It’s old. They’re not going to make anymore of these because they can’t. Everything in here is a custom job. The men who used to live here loved this building so much, they moved upstairs. The only additions I know they made are the bathroom sink, and a recessed cabinet where I display my books and nice wine glasses. I don’t know how long this closet has been here. It could be the original molding for all I know. But it became mine just the same. And now it’ll be left a gaping hole for the next two months until California Closets can install what they’ve built for me. All this was entirely my decision; an almost impulsive action after making that sharp U-turn where I was forced to find a new route home, not knowing who’d be there upon crossing the threshold.

Panic set in today. I imagined the closet I designed in its place and feared what I’d chosen would look commercial and phony. Like it wasn’t mine. These dingy closet doors though, they represent me. I’m flawed. I’ve got stains. I could smell like lavender mixed with old shoes for all I know. Part of me just wanted to keep on living in this ‘mess’; to not update or ascend and just go on in this state of forever sadness, singledom, and self-imposed solitude. I could raise a baby here if I wanted, that wouldn’t be a problem. What came into my mind was this: if I am to stay here, do I want to be a mess, or can I find happiness in the new? What’s it going to mean to me and the next person I invite in?

I pushed aside the brief thought of calling the whole thing off. My deposit is already down. The contractor gave me an estimate. Might as well go through with my choice and see it through till the end. I get it. Ultimately I know it’s a good thing for me. I don’t need the doors of my home to define me, especially as we walk through more which only open from one side. I’m more than my home, and at the end of the day, whatever I bring inside becomes a reflection of me. As I get older, so will my home. And it’s okay that for some things, it’s time for a upgrade. A significant change. Something new to take better care of than what was previously there.

In just a few months, it’ll all be real. I’ll have a nice, new, finished closet, left just for me to sit and marvel at. No more bending down to flip over the door hinge so I can get at my lower drawer. No more wobbly shelves that just won’t scrub clean. Here’s something new to love until it’s time to share it with someone else.

For now, I have absolutely no plans for what to do with my clothes. Perhaps they’ll live on my couch for a bit. I’ve been spending far too much time there anyway. There’s still a lot to be done before the custom murphy bed arrives too. I’m making all sorts of changes inside. At least it seems I’ll never want for storage space.

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