Envy: A painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. ~Merriam Webster
We were getting a tour of a home in progress belonging to an acquaintance from school. Our kids were in class together and they were new to the neighborhood having moved from one beautiful home to another just months before. The first floor space was in disarray with couches pushed into a corner, other rooms were empty where work was still in progress. She invited me upstairs to take a look at the one room that had been completed, her closet. The closet where she stores her clothes and bags and shoes. I wondered how this could possibly be a feature to highlight in a house tour.
The room was a large open square with windows streaming in late summer sunshine, double racks along three walls, a wall of shoes made up the fourth with what looked like a hundred pair of shoes, neatly stacked on rows of shelves. Above the racks of clothes were more shelves, glass enclosed and lit to showcase an array of designer handbags, each with it’s own cubby and spotlight. My mouth may have hit the floor as I took it in. This was the dressing room of a hollywood movie star, not the mom of my son’s classmate. My brain could not compute.
I thought of my own dingy, windowless, closet at home that I shared with my husband, a three foot width of space meant to hold the breadth of my limited four season wardrobe. No, this did not compute. That I was missing the closet boat was something I was vaguely aware of before I stumbled into this stunning, gilded closet in which the pit of envy in the center of my chest left me speechless.
I thought back to a conversation two of us had about closets in the schoolyard one afternoon and how she told of helping a friend clean out her closet that was absolutely, ridiculously overflowing. Because I was going through a time of streamlining my own wardrobe, I humble bragged that I’d whittled my own closet to about twenty items and how wonderful and freeing it was. She looked at me quizically and then with a tinkly laugh said they’d better take me shopping. Oh, they didn’t mean cleaning out your closet the way I did.
I was gut punched with envy for what I didn’t have that day, and never would because to pour six figures into a room I used for three minutes each morning was unthinkable (especially since the kitchen still hadn’t been renovated in the fifteen years I’d lived there) and there would be nowhere to put it unless we hired a contractor to put on an addition. This wasn’t in the cards. While you could walk into my closet, you could not call it a walk in closet. There would not be room for a cat and another person in my closet let alone two people. My husband and I did a curious dance each morning to get ourselves ready for the day, timing it so neither of us had to use the closet at the same time because it wasn’t an option.
You could fit 20 of my closets in the space I was gaping at open mouthed. Why you would want to do that, however, I do not know. We were not in the same league, whatsoever. I did not own a single designer handbag, let alone ten. Once the tour was complete and I’d appropriately gushed about how beautiful her home was going to be, how amazing her closet already was, I stumbled back out into the August sunshine, recovering my breath. My mind was still not firing at all as it should with images of the shoes, the bags, the clothes and the marble topped center island that housed many more unseen items – jewelry, acessories, things that went in drawers. Was this something I aspired to in life, an amazing vast closet filled with designer clothes, shoes and handbags? No, this was not me at all. But it didn’t prevent a feeling of cold, dark envy that took weeks to dissipate.
Have you ever experienced envy so deeply it left you speechless?