It’s a funny thing about going to the laundromat. I don’t mind it.
For several years now, each Friday I have walked our freshly washed clothes (in a hamper, on a dolly) over to the neighborhood laundromat a few blocks away. You see, Friday we have a weekly housecleaning ritual. Part of the ritual involves doing laundry. We have a washer, but for the past few years, we have not had a dryer (mostly by choice: the old dryer stopped working, and we released it, and so far haven’t replaced it). Drying at the laundromat usually takes about 40-50 minutes, depending on how big that week’s load is. More often than not, I sit there, reading a book, writing, or playing on my phone. After the clothes are nice and dry I walk them back home, and my wife folds them.
Why do I find this so tolerable, enjoyable even? Good question.
My happy relationship with laundromats goes back at least as far as London many summers ago, when I was there for a college study abroad theater program. I took acting classes and enjoyed seeing some fantastic plays. As nice as these acting experiences were (and they were nice), the funny thing is that I recall almost as poignantly the ease and relaxation I felt as I sat at the laundromat waiting for my clothes to get done. There I was, lulled by the hypnotic sounds of the machines, reading a novel, and feeling peaceful and content.
There’s a simple intrinsic value to doing laundry that is refreshing (I also find this with doing dishes… maybe it’s the cleansing properties of water). Doing laundry is easy to win at, it’s predictable and it’s reliable. It is gloriously rooted in the here and now. No psychic angst or weight exists for me around getting clothes clean. It’s just, put it in, turn it on and voila: like new!
I also like the idea of a laundromat: Dirty in, clean out. Maybe it’s something going back to my college days, when doing laundry was a sort of mark of independence that lets us students know we weren’t at home any more. There’s also something strangely freeing about being forced to wait for your clothes. What to do while you while away the minutes? Surely some good thinking or at least day-dreaming can get done. One way or another, this ritual is a tolerable and even satisfying one.
Not all of life has to be grandiose or big. There’s something about certain mundane duties that help give life a more pleasant timbre. Things like getting the house clean, or trudging down to the laundromat for a weekly fluff and fold.