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Tears Beneath the Tension Rods 

Today my closet fell down and I cried. How does a closet fall down? the inquisitive reader might wonder. The truth is that I have no closet––I have two tension rods. Many months ago, when I was a tension rod virgin and the world was beautiful, I arrived at my humble Old Campus suite after my roommate. She got the desk next to the window and the singular closet bar. I got the empty, bar-less side of our L-shaped “closet.” Amazon tension rods it was. (Was this my mistake? My tears a punishment for lazy participation in late-stage capitalism?) 

I placed the silver rods as so: one higher and farther back in the cavity and the other lower and in front. I called them Rodrigo (no, not Olivia––I am not a fan. Repetitive themes and lacking lyrics) and Mitt Rodney (also not a fan). They began level. Days passed, and Rodney’s right arm slipped an inch. Slipped two. Rodrigo followed. On one fateful day, Rodrigo and Rodney lost their pathetic grip on the stucco walls and crashed to the cold floor. I cried. I contemplated extricating the plastic hangers and beloved dress straps and jacket sleeves and heavy coats. I elected, instead, to pick out items one by one, day by day, like a guilty ferret with her slowly dwindling stash. Eventually, the rods were emptied and reinstalled anew. 

This cycle has repeated for nine months, culminating always in Rodrigo and Rodney’s special time of strife (come to think of it, we might be synced). And of course, the deluge of fabric coincides with the Worst. Day. Ever. Terrible French exam. Crash. Mother on FaceTime squints at the spreading acne on my chin. Crash. International Holocaust Remembrance Day (my grandmother’s a survivor). Crash. 

Today was different. Today my closet fell down, and, dear reader, something wonderful happened: I did not cry for the dust-stained button-downs or gargantuan collection of black boots (can one have too many?) buried beneath the rubble. I cried for the French exam and acne-scarred chin and the Holocaust, for the people I miss and papers I need to write, for climate change and war and time. I did not let the clothes rest on the floor for a week, or two, or six (my current record). I picked them up, while I wept and wept and wept. 

Sometimes you need to cry, and the tension rod gods bless you in a dorm room closet. 

—Mia Rose Kohn

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