Thursday, February 27, 2014

Laundry Day

Freshman year me, in my dorm room in Page Hall.
When I began college, fresh from my 12 day backpacking trip, where we had discussed sustainability and the impact we have on our planet, I was inspired to make changes in my lifestyle. I decided that one change I could make was to hang dry all my laundry, and save the energy that a dryer uses.

Page Hall had a little laundry room tucked off the landing on the staircase between the first and second floor. I lived right in the middle of the second floor, so I’d trek my laundry through the boys’ section and down half a flight of stairs to the laundry room. I made myself at home on campus by walking barefoot everywhere I could, and the trip to the laundry room was no exception. (I did have flip flops for the shower, don’t worry.)

After it was washed, I’d cart it back to my room, turn on Same Girl by Jack Johnson, and hang the laundry while I sang. I had a spindly metal hanging rack from Ikea that I set up on my side of the dorm room, and I would leave the windows open to catch the breeze. They were open almost all the time anyway; we were on upper campus, and received all the warm wind that blew through the mountains. I’d hang extra clothes wherever I could find a space: over the back of my desk chair, on the ladder to my bunk bed, over the armoire doors. I hung all my underwear in the closet, just in case boys came over to visit.

One day I told my roommate how much I loved my laundry detergent. I’d just brought a batch of laundry back from the laundry room, and before laundry has dried, you can really smell the detergent on the clothes. I used Trader Joe’s Laundry Detergent at the time, and loved its earthy scent. My roommate asked if it was the same kind my mom used, probably supposing that it reminded me of home. To me, however, it was the smell of the new home I was creating for myself. It was the smell of beginning a new life, and Same Girl was the soundtrack for the break with my traditional habits, however simple the break.

I kept up my new habit sophomore year. Armington Hall’s laundry room was in the basement, and I lived on the third floor, so it was a bit more of a journey, especially lugging up wet laundry. Yet I continued to hang dry it, and revel in my new life as Same Girl played in the background. That year, I fell for a hottie on the second floor, and we discovered that the laundry room was a great spot to sneak a kiss while doing chores. By the next year, my junior/senior year, I was doing his laundry too. Luckily my sister and I roomed together for the second half of the year, so I could use her drying rack too. I still played Same Girl on laundry days. For me, the song began to symbolize the relationship I worked for with Aaron: one that was peaceful, in which we were both comfortable to be ourselves, in which it was more fun to laugh than to fight.

In our first studio together, the laundry room was just down the stairs from our second floor home, and I kept air drying and playing Same Girl. I had grown to love my peaceful laundry time.

When we moved to the East Coast, I used a dryer for the first time in my adult life. There had been no way to move the unwieldy drying rack, and when we arrived, the weather was so humid I wasn’t sure if the clothes would even dry in a reasonable amount of time. That seemingly simple act of using the dryer represented all the changes I had gone through, and the ways in which I needed to adapt to my new life.

I did adapt. I kept using the dryer. Yet as I write this, looking at the floor space we have in the Hobbit Hole (much greater than our studio), I’m thinking I need to make another change, make an Ikea stop, and buy another drying rack. We have a backyard now, so I can put the clothes outside to dry in the summer. And when I hang dry my clothes again, I already know what song I’ll play.

Written in response to the prompt by Danielle at Sometimes Sweet. The prompt was to write about a song that takes you back to a certain place and time, and has strong memories associated with it.  

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