When Sean and I first married, our cute but cockroach-infested apartment had no available laundry facilities. And when times got tight, my dear parents let me come over and do our laundry at their house. We had just one vehicle at the time, and this became our routine: Sean would drop me and our piles of clothes at my parents’ house on Fridays, where I would do laundry until my mom got off from work at noon, then she and I would go and do something together, be it lunch, or running some errands. Sean was a teacher then, which meant some very early mornings for this cranky, grouchy, growly-in-the-morning girl. So I would throw on some comfies, sweats, whatever, bring something cute to wear later, and reluctantly head out before the sun fully rose.
Here is the miracle of doing laundry at someone else’s house, in the era before a smartphone and a tablet kept me shackled, I mean, connected: there’s not much else to do but watch hours of guilt-free television, or read a book or magazine, or write. Looking back now I could have maybe helped out with some of my mom’s chores, but she is one of those naturally neat people who dances and sings when she cleans. She once managed to mop the floors in the amount of time it took for me to round up my kids and get them out the door. So there may not have been much to do anyway. On these days, I mostly watched movies, all my parents’ old tapes that I used to watch when I was a kid and stayed home sick from school, like “The African Queen,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “My Fair Lady.”
I loved laundry day. Despite the laundry, it felt like a day off. I have a really hard time conceptualizing what a day off is supposed to look like now. I live at my job. There is always something that can be done. I feel itchy when I sit down to watch TV. Surely I should be, I don’t know, knitting something. I don’t knit, but I can sure as heck make myself feel guilty for not doing it. (Let’s have a cheer for neuroses!)
Fact is, I hate laundry. It is a never-ending curse of dirty clothes and clean clothes and folding and it never feels done. SEAN sees it as something that can be done while watching sports. And he is never disheartened when putting a dirty shirt into a newly-emptied basket. Sigh.
In an effort to help out, Sean had done all the laundry a few times in the past. But I am a tall lady, and my laundry requires some special attention. Some things shouldn’t be dried, no matter what the label says. Just ask my much shorter sister who got many unexpected brand-new hand-me-downs when we were teenagers and something came out of the dryer seventeen inches shorter than when it entered. It was just too complicated to explain all these things to Sean, so I seemed doomed to remain on the heaping laundry train for all of eternity. Until we had a baby girl, and I came up with a plan. Would you, sweet dear, consider being in charge of boy laundry (we already had a son) while I do girl laundry? I asked. Sure! he responded. Yipee! I yelled.
I have watched him on his laundry day more than once whilst simmering in a stew of envious slime. He puts a load in, and sits on the couch. Then gets up to switch it, and sits down again. All of this sitting reminded me of something. Ah, that’s right. This is how laundry day used to look to me, too! What bliss once was my laundry day!
I have since made an effort to regress to those simpler times. Sweats? Check. Couch? Check. Movie picked by me and me alone without regard to anyone else’s opinion and/or interruptions of sarcastic grunts and comments? Check, oh, checkity check. Is it enough to make me ask for more laundry? Heavens to betsy, no. But it sure makes me look forward to Mondays.
It also makes me wonder, what other ways can I purposefully waste my time, guilt-free? How do you waste yours?