Cleaning My Closet: The Ritual


The Catharsis

Cleaning my closet is my metaphor for hitting the reset button. Fresh start. Clean slate. Get organized, get over myself. “When it’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more” as Popeye would say. Usually after a traumatic, life changing event.

I caught myself in the act years ago. Having just ended an agonizing short term affair, I found myself in the deep end of my walk-in closet straightening, moving, discarding and brooding over how I fell asleep at the wheel of life. Pondering whether I let myself get ensnared in these go nowhere relationships and career mishaps on purpose, so I wouldn’t have to settle in and be one of them. You know, a normal person.

By then I had realized this is what I have always done, a mental toilet flush. Rearrange the closet, the furniture, move, change jobs, chop my beard or find another mentally deranged birdie with a broken wing to block out the last fiasco. That was the drill. I don’t remember what I did when I was drinking for obvious reasons. Maybe just more of the same. But the closets, those were to go-to prescription. The first step in the next step. Then, send in the clowns again.

I think entering sales in my mid-40s, single and relocating to the other side of the country brought me face to face with…me. I owned a home but was never there. Had lots of friends that I hardly ever saw and a manager who only lived in my inbox.

I spent 13 years in Arizona and in all that time I never really had a tight connection with more than one or two people. Well meaning people would fix me up with friends of theirs that they considered a perfect match for me. Some of these collisions were so off the mark that it made me wonder if there was something wrong with me that I wasn’t aware of.

To add to the complexity, the only friends I had out there were customers and usually valuable ones so I would have to play along. At least until I could figure a way out lest I disappoint and suffer more than one kind of loss. I told one I thought I was bi-sexual. In the middle of the AIDS crisis that bird had flown.

Usually I found a way to wiggle out of these mismatches but never totally unscathed. It was usually a huge sigh of relief, then, back to the closet. Vowing to stay on my toes until the next well meaning doomed encounter.

Sometimes it was company worries. Something disruptive or crude I would say at a company meeting to get a laugh (and usually did) followed by a management sit down. Those were the worst. You never knew what they were saying about you back at the ranch. Most folks thought I never gave a shit. But I did. Self inflicted torture and loneliness in the desert moonlight.

I hated the weekends. I had no anchor, no family and usually no plans. When the plane would touch down late on Friday night at Sky Harbor all I had to look forward to was an hour ride home and a wide open two days until I could get back in the saddle. At some point, I started taking Saturday morning flights home and Sunday evening departures to break up the weekend.The rest of the time I spent hiking, mall walking and perusing book stores. It wouldn’t be long though, before the next emotional package would land on my door step. Plop!

I am at that point now but it’s different. I’m older, wiser, suffer fools less lightly, speak my mind more forcefully and don’t want to spend a moment enduring someone else’s bullshit. That ought to put me in demand in corporate America, right?  I have a wonderful marriage and as you can guess, a very patient and loving wife and partner. We have a successful business but it’s more draining and paining lately and our last fiasco was it for me. Time for a change.

Some folks think life is like bobbing for french fries. You have to endure the pain to get the gain. I don’t. I always enjoy what I do, or I don’t do it. It’s just that I don’t know yet what to do at the moment that will check that box.

But, back to the ritual, my closet. Better call the dumpster.

If you have any questions or need advice, please feel free to reach out to me here.

Bob O’Hearn

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Please note: I welcome comments that are offensive, illogical or off-topic from readers in all states of consciousness.

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