Sunday, December 2, 2012

In and Out of the Closet

    It was a dark and stormy Saturday. Nothing to tempt me into the garden or outside for a walk. Nothing to distract me from the nagging incompletes on my to-do list.  I headed into my closet. It’s a small walk-in closet with barely enough space to extend my arms between cluttered shelves of t-shirts and shoes on one wall and the crush of hangers on adjacent rods.

    I began with the jumble of t-shirts teetering on a shelf above the shoes. One by one, I culled through souvenirs from community walks and cancer support events of the past two decades. The pink t-shirt from my first walk as a cancer survivor in 2000 remained on the shelf, spared by words that carried me through the early years of post-treatment fears: “I will survive,” reads the back of the shirt. “I have so much life to live. I have so much love to give.”  The white one from a high school reunion, printed with the now-banned Lebanon Warriors logo, went into a recycle pile.

    Then I moved to the shoes.  As I reunited matching pairs, I uncovered a strap of black webbing that had been lost on the back of a shelf. It was a fitness tool I’d forgotten about—a loop of strong fabric made to hold an exercise tube wedged in a doorway. Aha! I thought. A distraction!

    I pulled a green exercise resistance band from under the sweatshirts on another shelf and pushed the handles through the loop of webbing. Then I slipped the strap into the slit between closet door and frame and shut the door firmly, myself and the resistance band inside.  What a discovery! I completed two sets of chest presses followed by a few bicep curls, feeling flushed with pride. After that, I needed a glass of water before returning to my chores.

    You've probably guessed by now—the closet door refused to open. A shout to my spouse bought no response. The garage might as well have been the moon. I stretched up to open a small transom window and called again. Between shouts, I tugged at the door in vigorous and futile attempts to liberate myself. Eventually, I settled down on the floor and sorted the shoes into pairs. Then, I brought color-coordinated order to a drawer of socks. 

    By the time I heard the garage door open, I’d started in on the hanging clothes. I rejoiced that rescue was at hand. My husband pushed from his side of the stubborn door while I pulled from mine. No luck. In the end, it came down to tools passed through the transom—a screwdriver and pliers, then a hammer and an ice pick—with which I managed to remove three hinges, free the offending webbing, and finally, reset the hinges. 

    Who could have imagined that closet cleaning could produce such a full-body workout? By the time I’d achieved release, I had worked up a sweat, but I'd forgotten the need for water. I breathed a deep sigh of thanks for the transom window and poured a glass of wine. 
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