I Like Laundry Day

I enjoy doing laundry. The whole thing: sorting, washing, drying, folding. This is contrary to many of my friends and family for whom laundry day is dreaded and often stretches over into days of unfolded piles of clean clothes distributed about the house waiting for someone (or a cat)

Nouchka the cat peeking out of a pile of clean towels

Nouchka In Charge of Laundry At Her Grandparents’ House

to care for it. These piles become ersatz armoires, closets and drawers, and people root around in them looking for something to wear, scattering the pile, inevitably toppling a sock or shirt onto the floor in their wake.

Many household chores can… well, first what does “chore” mean? Let’s use dictionary.com: “[a] routine task…everyday work around a house or a farm”. I myself am not consistent: I love a clean house, but for the most part, I put off cleaning until it is a bigger task than if I just did it as needed. Even though I remind myself how, during a prolonged hotel stay, I absolutely delight in returning to a room freshly vacuumed and tidied, a sparkling clean bathroom, and I tell myself how nice it will be when I’m done, I still put it off. Unfortunately what I think about is the sharp smell of cleaning products…no matter how “scent free” or “lemony fresh” they are purported to be; then there is the horrible noise of the vacuum cleaner and the disapprobation of the cat. I think of how the minute I turn my back the sinks, counters and floors will just start collecting clutter, grime and dirt. I think of Sisyphus.

So why not the same with laundry? Yes, the very clothes I’m wearing while I do laundry will only begin a new pile of clothes that need to be cleaned. Yet, I do not feel sorry for myself, I do not think of Sisyphus. I think instead of Maui, Ashland, vacation. Yes, vacation–we pack light (a habit from traveling via motorcycle), we play hard, we do laundry–the washing machine is faintly humming in the background as we sit on the lanai between trips to the beach or the bike trail. I also think of the comfort of routine. Routine.

Routine. This poor word with its split personality. Sometimes routine simply is. It is neutral, unnoticed even. We breathe in, we breathe out, we sleep, we wake, we get thirsty and drink, we get hungry and eat. Sometimes routine is annoying drudgery. I once had a roommate in college whom I love still, but she had an annoying routine: vacuuming happened on Tuesday afternoon, whether the floor needed it or not. We mow the lawn and in the blink of an eye, the grass has grown too tall and raggedy again, new dandelions have sprouted and we need to turn around and mow again–AND it is wet. Sometimes routine is welcome, comforting. For someone spinning with anxiety, the familiarity of a routine can step in and help give one an anchor, a distraction, a different experience. Routine, benevolent routine.

Mark Helprin’s character Harry in In Sunlight and In Shadow has returned from WWII having suffered from the cold and experienced violent explicit gory loss close-up through the relentless winter Battle of the Bulge. He expresses the benevolence of routine:

“And now, for the sake of the ones who hadn’t come home, Harry lived the dream they had dreamed–of ordinary things, of pedestrian routine, of the small and quiet actions that to the less experienced might seem worthless or oppressive, but that were secretly laden with the beauty that graced the quiet lives that those who had not returned could not live.” (Helprin, 507)

Back to laundry and why I enjoy it, even down to the folding. Well in some ways the folding is the best part. The folding can be the thing in itself–a meditation. Or it can be a time for day dreaming–which turns out to be good for your brain, besides just being enjoyable. It is a great time to play music and sing at the top of your lungs, dance with a bath towel, two-step with a pair of jeans. It can also be a thrilling challenge at times. Many years ago, I was folding towels, well, I was INTENDING to fold towels. I had my hand on a washcloth, I began to pick it up but it resisted. I pulled harder and slowly it rose with a single scimitar-like claw attached which in its turn was attached to a long feline arm, the towel pile shifted slightly and out came a very low, but very serious growl…our cat Nouchka was not amused that I was trying to fold up her perfectly fine and still warm laundry pile that she had completely immersed herself in. I let go the washcloth and slowly backed away to return to fold another day.

Laundry has good associations for me. Here is something I wrote for myself several months ago that pretty much covers why I like laundry day:

Laundry Day

Laundry day comes
More and more and more often

Laundry day is the one house cleaning activity
That is calming to me

Laundry day comes
With greater frequency

Maui, Ashland
Laundry happens on vacation

Laundry after snorkeling and beach walking
Laundry after road trip and biking

When I am home and it is grey
I pretend I’m doing Maui laundry
When I am home and it is grey
I pretend I’m doing Ashland laundry

The sound of the washing machine is calming
Water, artificial waves through mechanical agitation
The dryer
White noise
Warm air, artificial Sirocco

Laundry day means something that I’ve done today

Laundry day comes
More and more and more

Each load smaller and smaller
Until there is no laundry to do

I must take care because I do not believe in wasting water
I must take care because I do not believe I wasting power
I must take care

But listen, it could be Maui
There could be sun
But listen, it could be Ashland
There could be sun
And listen, here is something I will have done

Laundry day

Works cited:

“chore.” Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 25 Apr. 2014. Dictionar.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chore

Helprin, Mark. In Sunlight and In Shadow. Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin. 2013. Print.

Mine. “Laundry Day”. Unpublished.

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