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Let us praise the humble Clothes Chair

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A quiet but steady companion.

Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images. Banner Society Illustration.

The first time I put a chair in my bedroom, I considered all the useful applications it would surely serve. This would be a place to drink coffee quietly as the day began, or to put on shoes and socks. Certainly, this would be my reading nook, and on occasion a nice place to call an old friend. In this bedroom chair, I saw a small bubble of serenity.

But I was completely wrong. The bedroom chair isn’t for reading or drinking coffee or getting dressed. It’s not even for sitting. Nature determined the bedroom chair’s purpose long ago: to form a symbiotic relationship with your clothes.

Having unintentionally run this experiment for a number of years now, I can tell you that any variable can be changed and the outcome will remain the same. Whether you put a chair in a big bedroom or a small one, it will become the clothes chair. You can try a comfortable, cushy chair or something harder and more spartan; both will wind up as a clothes chair. Put a chair in a bedroom with the most spacious, well-organized closet you can imagine. That perfect space will not change the fate of the clothes chair.

The clothes chair does not limit itself to one subset of clothing. At any time, it may simultaneously be home to:

  • clothes I have folded but not put away
  • dirty clothes
  • clothes i want to give away
  • clothes in need of basic repair
  • clothes I will wear multiple times before washing (jackets, scarves)
  • clothes that are not appropriate for the current season (again, jackets and scarves)
  • hats

A personal confession: my inability to eliminate the clothes chair used to bother me. It felt like a personal failure. Ideal Me has a chair empty of clutter, one where I actually sit, read interesting novels, and eat exactly one homemade shortbread cookie before retiring to bed at a prudent hour. Real Me has a clothes chair — nay, relies on the clothes chair — is behind on all his reading goals, and eats Twizzlers in bed.

This gap between the ideal and the actual nagged at me for years. A better life lay within reach, if I could only get my shit together and get the clothes out of the chair. There were even weeks where I met that goal. Clothes were deposited directly at their destination, never dawdling in chair purgatory.

Then I discovered something. Even when the clothes chair harbored no clothes, I didn’t use it for any of the cozy and peaceful things I had in mind. Ideal Me had never been thwarted by the chair. No, he’d been kept in check by Real Me the whole time.

Now, I submit to the clothes chair. Though its purpose still eludes me, I find it to be a comforting companion. During good times and bad, I will always have a spot in my bedroom that has clothes on it. It stands as proof of what I can do (avoid simply throwing clothes on the ground) and of what I have yet to accomplish (actually putting the clothes where they go). It is a piece of art, installed in the ultimate private gallery, representing the nexus between dreams and reality.

Most importantly, it is a physical manifestation of my most vital realization: Sometimes, one just cannot deal with this shit, and it needs to be somewhere else for now.

(No, I have not considered just having a bedroom without a chair in it. Don’t be absurd.)