Out of the Closet

Dearest Rachel –

I know you’re looking at that title; and no, it doesn’t mean that. Just take it literally, like you’re supposed to.

I stayed home from the office today, because both Jan and Kris were over as part of the (seemingly) never-ending cleaning effort. I left Kris to her own devices – and the shower floor hasn’t been this clean since it was installed – while Jan and I continued to work in the yellow room.

You should probably recall from my last entry on the subject that the room itself was pretty much taken care of. Today, we were limited to working on the closet. But oh boy, the stuff you had in there.

Where do I even start? Actually, I probably shouldn’t be the one starting the story; I was going through a handful of your papers while Jan was doing the heavy lifting, basically taking all your outfits and bagging them up to take to the folks for cleaning and sending on to Community Threads. I did get her to retrieve your one coat that we referred to as your Jo Grant coat; that may well be (thanks to your Doctor Who addiction – and having recently met the actress herself) another entry in and of itself.

For what it’s worth, here’s the coat we salvaged. I’m sure you remember it. Jan pointed out the lining had a number of holes in it, but that just proved how well loved it was.
Doctor Who's wife and girlfriends - everyone who's got with the Doctor
And this is Katy Manning as Jo Grant, wearing the actual coat. On closer examination, yours wasn’t that much like hers, but given that we hadn’t all the images of the Internet at our fingertips back then, it was more than satisfactory for the time.

But you had a number of papers stashed in a number of places. One of the strangest was a long thin metal box that you had stored on the highest shelf in the closet. Honestly, Jan and I thought you had your wedding dress in there.

This picture doesn’t give a thorough impression of how long the box is, but the camera can’t get too far into the closet without losing perspective.

But we barely managed to move it before we realized it contained something considerably heavier than a dress. I basically had to lift the lid, grab out a handful of stuff, and hand it to Jan to set down on the bed for me to go through later. There were old textbooks: calculus and linear algebra and various programming languages. There were folders of material pertaining to various classes: assignments and homework, written and typed. There were even brochures from our visit to Nauvoo which allowed you to take care of a homework assignment (in Distinctive American Religions) as we were heading to Keokuk to catch a movie together.

There was even a scrapbook of memorabilia pertaining to our wedding, including many of the letters that I had written you when we were courting. Now, I had kept copies of many of my own letters (since I had written them on a computer), but the fact that you kept them too – including some handwritten ones that I’d not thought to copy – just brought back that many more memories.

We finally cleared enough out of the box for me to sloooowly pull it out, and bring it down.

As you can see, it was quite large and heavy
Even when I had virtually cleaned it out; you can see that I needed to remove two-thirds of all that was in there in order to get it down

But no sign of your wedding dress at all. It seems ridiculous Lee out of character that you would’ve thrown it out discarded it, although who knows? You may have found it moth- or mouse-eaten at some point, and actually bit the bullet and gotten rid of it. After all, it only cost you $10 (and maybe another $100 in alterations, but still, the deal of a lifetime). Or, it may still be in the attic. I have no idea. All I can say with confidence is, it’s not in that box.

Of course, that was just one box on one shelf in the closet. There were so many other things in there to go through. Let’s start with the boxes that I thought would include more memorabilia from college; they were even marked “Rachel’s IWU Papers:”

I did not expect to see what greeted me upon opening this box.
That’s right, you had two full boxes of funny papers.

The truly weird thing was, while most of the papers were from when we were when you were at college, there was one from 1965 for some reason. That one still puzzles me; I don’t know why you kept that one, or where you got it from. In either case, I’m not about to go through all of them – The only thing that caught my attention about that particular paper was an old Dick Tracy strip featuring a villain named Mattie Square. But since those story arcs go on for months, a single paper is hardly worth bothering with.

And while I found so many letters from your parents, from Ellen and Elizabeth and all of our friends from Wesleyan, there were so many things in there that serve no purpose anymore save to mystify the two of us now.

Used wrapping paper. Although in fairness, these might’ve been considered souvenirs from a baby shower, rather than being kept in order to reuse them some other time.
Empty pill bottles; I assume you had planned to use these to store coins. I mean, I know I do that too, but this is a lot more bottles than I ever had to work with, or needed.
Used crêpe paper. I… have no idea, other than the fact that it was purple.
Which kind of begs the question as to why you kept this pink crêpe paper, along with the dress.
There was this box that had clearly been built out of a much larger box…
…in order to hold and store empty boxes – mostly gift boxes that I expect you intended to reuse for future Christmas presents – but I have no idea how are you expected to get them out of the yellow room at that point. And then there’s the box some toy came in – why were you keeping this, again?
If I wasn’t perfectly aware that Daniel is alive and well, and doing (reasonably) fine (under the circumstances), I would think this would be the source of Ernest Hemingway’s six word tragic novel: ‘For sale: Baby shoes, never used.’

It did take us the better part of the day to get it all done, but the results speak for themselves: the closet is more or less empty.

As you can see.

But it’s amazing to see what came out of it. Darling, you packed that place like it was a TARDIS.

These bags are everything we took out of there to be delivered to Goodwill.
And these are all the clothes we set aside to take to Mom and Dad’s to be processed for Community Threads.
And these bags are meant to be taken out with the next garbage pick up.

I’ve talked to people about the amount of stuff that we’ve cleared out of this house. We’re aware of the three dumpsters full of material that we had carted off, but as far as the material that we donated to Goodwill or Community Threads, I haven’t a clue as to what all it came to, volume-wise. But you can see for yourself just how much we got out of a single closet. It’s amazing.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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