Thursday, March 19, 2009

Laundry Pause

I have mixed feelings about going to the laundromat.

I don't like it because I go in the evenings after a long day at work.

I don't like the proximity to large families and their crying children.

I don't like taking the chance that all the top-loading machines will be filled, forcing me to use the more expensive front-loading aluminum machines (some of which actually look smaller).

I don't like walking home in the dark. Even though the laundromat is not very far at all from where we live, I pass by some spooky dark spots. I keep my eyes wide open, but dark and spooky remains dark and spooky.

(I know I can solve this problem by returning to the habit of doing laundry on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, that would steal precious weekend time. Besides, the wash costs more on Sundays.)

I don't like the fact that doing our two weekly loads takes ninety minutes total, and that's ninety minutes away from Two Dogs on a time-pressed weekday evening.

I like going to the laundry because it gives me a chance to read (and write) while the washers and dryers do their work. (That would not have been possible a hundred years ago, but that's a post for another time.)

I like enjoying my laundry soda -- Diet Coke by day, Fresca by night (as it almost always is now). Soda tastes better in the laundromat. Maybe it's because it's a treat in the middle of work. All laundromats should be near stores where you can buy drinks, or at least have a soda machine inside. My laundromat has no food stores where you can walk to quickly, but it does have a soda machine. Unfortunately, the machine doesn't have Fresca, so I just bring it from home.

I like the brief escape from an apartment which is way too small to hold our lives.

I like the feeling of soft, warm clothes that have just come from the dryer, and knowing that, for this week, laundry is done.

A laundromat can be dingy, dull, and disheartening, and I have been in my fair share of those places. A laundromat can also be a place of cheer.

When I was in college, I would pick up my red vinyl travel bag filled with dirty clothes, hang it over my shoulder, and walk to the laundromat only a block from Venice Beach. I spent many a happy hour basking in the sun that streamed through the windows, enjoying books that I would not touch today (such as scandalous autobiographies of baseball wives), and pondering the posters which urged gay men to practice safe sex. I'd walk across the street to the brick-walled liquor store for a cold one -- Diet Coke. Always Diet Coke.

Another cool laundromat I can think of is one in Mission Beach in San Diego County. I remember that it was covered in vines on the outside, and had tall windows that were rounded on top. Inside, it was filled with plants, and bulletin boards blossomed with colorful flyers. I will take some photos when I return there.

I also remember a laundromat in Las Vegas which had (past tense) two bearded dragons in a glass tank. I think I would enjoy washing clothes with a calm, silent reptile presence around.

That's a good idea -- a lush, jungle-like laundromat, with green plants creeping everywhere and no room for children to play, but there would be a fountain with a koi pond which disguised the hum of the dryers and one perfect seat for a mouse with a book (or notepad) to sit.

I like writing essays about the laundromat.

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