After I “finished” The Hat Project, I realized I no longer knew where most of my hats were. I’d added hats during the project and acquired even more since the project “ended.” I’d moved hats around to accommodate the new arrivals. Assuming I had anywhere to go (not a given in COVID times) I wouldn’t be able to find my desired hat without taking down several boxes.
I had to get organized.
I created a table listing all the hats in The Hat Project’s Hat Gallery, sortable by color. Then I started opening boxes, inventorying the contents, and tagging each box with a sticky that listed the hats inside.
In the middle of this effort, a friend called. When I told her what I was doing, she mentioned how great it was to “KonMarie” one’s surroundings.
“I don’t know about that,” I said. “I’m a maximalist.”
Some people are taking the shutdown as an opportunity to clean out their houses. Not me. To me, now is when you want your nest extra feathery. Forget cleaning out the closet. Yesterday I bought a fifties vintage coat AND a sixties vintage suit. Plus, I find minimalist interiors depressing. All that white and beige and gray brings me down. Where's the color, where's the fun?
I’ve read many articles that advocated turning all your hangers around and only turning them to the right side again when you’ve worn a garment. At the end of the year, you discard anything unworn. I know myself. I’d be searching through those hangers for unworn clothes so that I could wear them before the year was up. I don’t want to get rid of them.
Yes, I could definitely tidy up my office (papers seem to explode there) and my bedside table, where old New Yorker magazines go to die. But my clothes? My books? A purge every few years does fine for me.
Even the short stories I write have been getting longer. I've switched from 1000-word flash fictions to thirty-page opuses.
COVID has forced austerity on all of us, and I’m sick of it. When this is over, I’m going to dress up for everything. I’m going to wear my vintage beaded yellow blouse and my gold lamé coat and a velvet evening hat to the local bistro. I’m going to travel to New Zealand and everywhere else I’ve dreamed of visiting. I’m going to throw a big party with great food and music. I’m going full maximalist on life.
Nothing creative ever happens in a tidy way. Every first draft I write (even of this blog) is a mess. I don’t want to live in a white and beige tidy world. I want to live with a lime green sofa and a colorful Mexican tile kitchen table, and a stack of books that don’t fit on the nightstand next to the bed, and ideas for abandoned stories littering my computer, and too many beautiful vases crammed into my cupboards.
Yes, I do want my hats to be organized. But right now I’m keeping all eighty of them. And I’ll always find room for another fabulous find.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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